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March 9, 1994

DNA Testing to Identify Rapists in the Former Yugoslavia

Author Affiliations

Harvard Medical School Boston, Mass

JAMA. 1994;271(10):745. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510340035019

To the Editor.  —Drs Swiss and Giller1 commendably encourage the medical community to take a responsible role in advancing human rights work in the former Yugoslavia. Their suggestion that application of forensic DNA technology to identification of rape perpetrators raises many issues in human rights, technology and the law, and science and society.The human rights issues of privacy and informed consent must be addressed and considered in cultural context. Guidelines and mechanisms for collection and storage of physical evidence and information about victims, their children, and alleged perpetrators must be established. Likewise, there is no internationally recognized procedure for meeting informed consent requirements under these circumstances. If privacy and informed consent are not adequately safeguarded, the victims may be subject to further ostracization and abuse in their own communities. Alleged perpetrators may also suffer abuse of their human rights if confidentiality is not preserved.Forensic DNA testing cannot

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