European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

France: Court rules against DNA database conviction

Human rights judges say France was wrong to convict a man for refusing to be included in France’s national computerised DNA database.

In the 22 June case of Aycaguer v. France (application no. 8806/12), the European Court of Human Rights declared that the sanction was contrary to the right to respect for private life.

It held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that France was to pay the applicant 3,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 3, 000 in respect of costs and expenses.

The case was brought by Jean-Michel Aycaguer, a French national, who was born in 1959 and lives in Ossès (France). On 17 January 2008, Aycaguer took part in a protest organised by an agricultural trade union and a mutual-based land alliance on the occasion of a professional meeting in the département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. This event was held in a tense political and trade-union context. At the end of

This event was held in a tense political and trade-union context. At the end of the meeting scuffles broke out between the demonstrators and the gendarmerie.

Aycaguer was placed in police custody and brought before the Bayonne Criminal Court, charged with intentional violence not entailing total unfitness for work against a public servant person and using or threatening to use a weapon, in this instance an umbrella.

Aycaguer was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, suspended.

On 24 December 2008, following a request from the prosecutor’s office, Mr Aycaguer was ordered to undergo biological testing, on the basis of Articles 706-55 and 706-56 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

On 19 May 2009, he was summoned to appear before the criminal court for failing to provide a biological sample and on 27 October 2009 the Bayonne tribunal de grande instance ordered him to pay a fine of 500 euros. The Pau Court of Appeal upheld that judgment.

Aycaguer lodged an appeal on points of law, which was dismissed.

The Court firstly observed that on 16 September 2010 the Constitutional Council had given a

decision to the effect that the provisions on the FNAEG were in conformity with the Constitution,

subject inter alia to “determining the duration of storage of such personal data depending on the purpose of the file stored and the nature and/or seriousness of the offences in question.”

The court noted that, to date, no appropriate action had been taken on that reservation and that there was currently no provision for differentiating the period of storage depending on the nature and gravity of the offences committed.

Secondly, the court ruled that the regulations on the storage of DNA profiles in the FNAEG did not provide the data subjects with sufficient protection, owing to its duration and the fact that the data could not be deleted.

The regulations therefore failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests.

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