DNA tests proposed in France for family visa applicants

By EDRi · September 26, 2007

On 19 September 2007, the French National Assembly adopted a draft law on
immigration that allows DNA tests on candidates applying for a more than 3
month visa on family regrouping grounds. The draft law was sent to be
examined by the Senate starting with 2 October.

The draft law was passed with a new amendment proposed by its rapporteur,
deputy Thierry Mariani that is meant to: “allow a long-term visa applicant
to request the comparison, at his (her) expense, of his (her) genetic prints
or those of his (her) spouse with those of his (her) minor children for a
family regrouping request, in case diplomatic or consular agents have
expressed a serious doubt regarding the authenticity of the legal status
document presented”.

The text adopted by the French National Assembly authorised this procedure
until 31 December 2010 and only with an experimental character.Also it
explicitly stated that the genetic exam would be reimbursed if the visa was

Various associations consider this amendment is a violation of the civil
code which forbids the use of genetic prints in establishing filiations
unless requested by a magistrate. They also think the proposed law reduces
the idea of filiations to strictly blood relations.

Martin Hirsch, High Commissary for Active Solidarities against Poverty,
stated on RTL that he was not favourable to authorising DNA tests to prove
filiation and that he “count(s) on the Senate not to go along that path”.

The proposed draft law appears to go against the provisions of the law on
bioethics of August 2004 which explicitly stipulates that the identification
by genetic prints can be done only for medical or scientific research
purposes. The exemption that allows such genetic tests “for medical purposes
in the interest of the person” which is provided by the health code is not
stipulated in the civil code.

Brice Hortefeux, Minister of Immigration, offered as an argument for DNA
tests in the interest of family regrouping, the fact that several countries
practice them. However, none of those countries have a rigorous legislation
on bio-genetics as France does and in many of them this practice is

EDRI-member IRIS is one of the groups that have fought against the use of
biometrics in travel documents. IRIS points out the threats and risks the
immigration draft law may bring forth such as abuses and manipulation
leading to the denial of the visa, drawing attention at the same time on the
weakening of data protection.
Following the adoption of Mariani amendment, more than 17 000 people signed
a petition launched by Sauvons la Recherche group against it and the
opposition prepares to challenge to the Constitutional Court the law, if
adopted by the Senate.

The legal commission of the Senate decided today, 26 September 2007, with 24
votes for and 13 against, to delete the article regarding the DNA tests from
the draft law. The text proposed by the legal commission will be discussed
by the Senate starting with 2 October 2007.

Draft law on Immigration – version adopted by the National Assembly (only in
French, 19.09.2007)

French National Assembly – Immigration law file (only in French)

No to the genetic control of the immigration (only in French, 17.09.2007)

Reticent on DNA tests, the Senate hesitates to censor them (only in French,

Researchers rise against DNA tests (only in French, 21.09.2007)

The Senate deletes the ADN tests (only in French, 26.09.2007)

Visa applicants: after digital prints, DNA tests – IRIS Press Release (only
in French, 17.09.2007)