French Senate okays DNA tests for immigrants
PARIS (AFP) – The French upper house of parliament, the Senate, on Thursday agreed to an amended version of a controversial immigration bill which would authorise voluntary DNA testing on foreigners wishing to join their families in France.
Fierce opposition to the bill — from the left-wing opposition, but also some government supporters, as well as religious leaders and campaigning groups — had led the government to make a series of concessions to win over critics.
Supporters say the measure would make it possible for would-be immigrants to speed up the application process by proving their kinship with family members in France. They point out that 12 other EU countries carry out similar tests.
However opponents say the bill — to be put to a vote late Thursday — would set a dangerous precedent by making genetic affiliation a criterion for citizenship.
An online petition launched in protest by SOS-Racism gathered more than 10,000 signatures in 24 hours, organisers said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the chief executive of the African Union, Alpha Oumar Konare, added his voice to the bill’s opponents, describing the proposed DNA tests as “unacceptable at an ethical, moral and cultural level.”
The measure — part of a wider immigration bill — has already been approved by the lower house, the National Assembly, but it was rejected last week when it was examined by the Senate’s laws committee. That decision was now overturned by the vote in plenary session.
Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux has backed a series of concessions in order to convince waverers.