Following the rape and murder of 21-year-old Micaela García in Entre Ríos this month, there has been a national outcry for the government to act against the continually high rates of similar crimes in Argentina. Now the government is to create a National Registry of Genetic Data connected to ‘Crimes against Sexual Integrity‘ using DNA from those convicted of sexual offenses.
Sanctioned in July of 2013 but yet to be implemented until now, Law 26.879 allows the state to take genetic material samples from sexual offenders and keep them in a register with the aim of preventing or identifying repeat offense more efficiently.
The rough draft that was worked out in the Ministry of Justice must pass through the Legal and Technical Secretary of the Presidency, where it will be revised; after this the decree to establish the register can be made official.
This decree is to be published in the state’s Official Bulletin over the next few days. During its revision in the Secretary of the Presidency, the bill may be subject to revision; it is predicted, however, to involve the formation of a tripartite commission, made up of a member of the Ministry of Justice, one from the Ministry of Security and a third from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation. According to the Ministry of Justice, this commission will establish the timeline for the creation and implementation of the new register.
The initial data for the registry will be DNA samples taken from those currently serving sentences for sexual crimes and those who have already served the sentence but who are still on the Registry of Recidivism. For future crimes, the sample will be taken once the sentence is final, after which the judge will have five days to make the order. It is as yet unclear how long the register will take to come into full effect.
This action by Macri’s government has been driven by the events this month surrounding the rape and murder of Micaela García. Sebastián Wagner, accused of Micaela’s rape and murder, had been previously convicted on two counts of rape and received a nine year sentence in 2010, but was released last year on good behavior. Given Wagner’s reoffence, many have called for the dismissal of the judge who released him.
These circumstances have led to a national discussion surrounding rape, reoffence, and the justice system. The new sex offenders register is designed to facilitate the identification of reoffenders. Isabel Yaconis, whose daughter was the victim of murder and attempted rape in 2003, said of the plans: “When they killed my daughter, in 2003, the culprit’s DNA was available to us. I got my hopes up because I thought the evidence we had before us was much more convincing than a digital footprint, but there was nothing to compare the data with. I think this measure won’t stop rapists, but we’ll have them backed up in the corner a bit more.”