Trumping communitarianism: crime control and forensic DNA typing and databasing in Singapore

Victor Toom

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Liberalism and communitarianism have figured prominently in discussions of how to govern forensic DNA practices (forensic DNA typing and databasing). Despite the prominence of these two political philosophies and their underlying values, no studies have looked at the governance of forensic DNA practices in a nondemocratic country governed by a communitarian logic. To fill this lacuna in the literature, this article considers Singapore as an authoritarian state governed by a communitarian philosophy. The article highlights basic innovations and technologies of forensic DNA practices and articulates a liberal democratic version of “biolegality” as described by Michael Lynch and Ruth McNally. It goes on to consider briefly various (political) philosophies (liberalism and communitarianism) and law enforcement models (due process and crime control models). The main part of the article records the trajectory, and hence biolegal progress, of forensic DNA practices in Singapore and compares it with trajectories in England and the United States. The article concludes that Singapore's forensic DNA practices are organized according to the crime control model and therefore safety and the war against crime and terrorism trump individual rights and legal principles such as privacy, bodily integrity, proportionality, presumption of innocence. and onus of proof.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-296
JournalEast Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2014


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