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“Fingerprint database urgently needed” - investigative committee

Published time: August 19, 2010 23:05
Edited time: August 19, 2010 23:05

The Moscow Metro attacks have led to renewed calls for the implementation of a national fingerprint database.

Police say that if the database existed, we would already know the identities of the two suicide bombers.

“Fingerprint bases help identify places where terrorists gather, and help catch them before terror attacks are committed,” Vyacheslav Shcherbakov of the Moscow University of Interior Ministry told RT.

The idea was first proposed by the head of the Investigative Committee investigating the recent suicide attacks, Aleksandr Bastrykin.

Previously, Bastrykin headed the investigation into the Nevsky Express bombing. Back then, he said that had this database been in place he would have been able to catch those responsible much quicker.

According to a Public Opinion Foundation poll, 51% of Russians support the idea of creating an all-nation fingerprint database, 26% are against it, and 23% answered that they do not know. 55% of respondents talked about benefits of such a measure, and only 30% mentioned the drawbacks.

“We believe that one of the measures to ensure public security should be a mandatory fingerprint database,” Vladimir Markin, Investigation Committee spokesman, said. “This will not only help to find criminals quickly, but also to identify victims of accidents and find missing persons – such as children or the elderly. I’d like to emphasize that we are not talking about treating the entire population as criminal suspects. The purpose of the database is to ensure people’s security.”

At the Park Kultury Metro station, there are posters of a girl who is still missing, as she was not identified among the dead. If this type of system was in place, police say, situations like this would never occur again.

“The current legislation gives us an opportunity to fingerprint several categories of people; not only convicts and suspects involved in certain kinds of crimes, but also those who risk their lives – rescuers, policemen and firemen. Moreover, any citizen can give his fingerprints to the database if he is afraid of some risks and thinks it may be needed. The usage of this information shows us it is highly effective,” Shcherbakov told RT.

Prosecutors of the Russian Federation fully support the idea.

“The system is very reliable. Dactylography dealing with fingerprints has a long history. It’s one of the best-developed parts of criminology. Even a part of a fingerprint can be used to identify a person,” Shcherbakov told RT.

However, the issue of the national fingerprint database remains very contentious – especially considering Bastrykin’s idea to get the fingerprints first from the citizens in the Northern Caucasus, who might see the measure as unnecessary and intrusive.

Then, there are other risks involved.

“Corrupt officials can sell the database – as was the case with phone numbers or car numbers databases. Such information can be easily misused,” Shcherbakov told RT.

“At last, the measure needs a lot of money. It is very expensive both to make and to use. This money can be used for crime prevention programs,” Shcherbakov added.

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