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Genetic databases and DNA analysis for criminal investigation in Brazil

Grant number: 22/02483-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2022
Effective date (End): October 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Urban Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Susana Soares Branco Durão
Grantee:Ricardo Urquizas Campello
Supervisor: Joelle Vailly
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Enjeux Sociaux , France  
Associated to the scholarship:20/12374-6 - Police DNA management: forensic genetic technologies in Brazil, BP.PD


This research project foresees a period of twelve months at the Institut de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux sociaux (IRIS - EHESS/CNRS/Inserm/Universidade Paris 13), during which the data I have been producing in Brazil on the use of DNA databanks for criminal investigation and forensic DNA phenotyping projects developed in the country will be analyzed. More precisely, the objective of the project is to analyze, in the light of the international bibliography and the discussions established in IRIS, the social, political and bioethical implications of the current process of consolidation, expansion and development of the Integrated Network of Genetic Profiling Databanks (RIBPG/MJSP), considered here as the main political technology of genetic profiling for purposes of criminal investigation in Brazil. The introduction of DNA databanks into the Brazilian legal system took place in May 2012, with the approval of Federal Law No. 12,654. In 2013, a joint action between the state secretariats of Public Security, the National Secretariat of Public Security (SENASP), and the Federal Police (PF) established the Integrated Network of Genetic Profiling Databanks, with the purpose of maintaining, sharing and comparing samples of DNA across the country. As of 2018, the Federal Government has been significantly expanding the registry of biological records, through a series of actions supported by the defense of efficient methods of solving crime, made available by techno-scientific innovations at the service of justice and public security. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of genetic samples registered in RIBPG grew at a rate of over 600%. Currently, the RIBPG manages more than 130,000 genetic samples stored in official DNA databanks. However, studies on the use of forensic technologies for DNA analysis in Brazil are still incipient and there are no publications in the Social Sciences regarding police practices for collecting, storing and processing genetic data in the country. Little is known about the social, political and bioethical implications of the process of "genetization" of crime control strategies in the Brazilian context. This project aims to develop an in-depth analysis of the empirical material collected and systematized in Brazil, with regard to the legal and political structuring of the official institutions that make up the RIBPG, the operational procedures of police investigation based on genetic analysis, and the recent forensic DNA phenotyping projects related to RIBPG. The main interest that mobilizes this research lies in the rapid expansion of the RIBPG over the last four years and its articulations with the selective aspects that characterize the field of crime control in Brazil. Implemented in the country that currently has the third largest prison population on the planet, composed mostly of black people belonging to the underprivileged classes, the rapid development of the RIBPG from 2018 onwards raises questions about the relationships established between social, racial and phenotypic selectivity that guides the performance of Brazilian police and judicial institutions and contemporary forms of criminalization and penalization based on biological records. How does the legal and institutional structure of the RIBPG articulate with the racial and social profiling mechanisms of the public security and criminal justice systems in Brazil? How are the operational procedures for the selection, collection, analysis and storage of genetic samples carried out by forensic experts and official genetic laboratories? What are the bioethical implications of the current development of forensic DNA phenotyping technologies in the country? These are the main questions that mobilize this project. (AU)

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