Kuwait plans to start collecting biometric DNA samples from all residents and visitors who pass through their airports. What does that mean for all of the U.S. military personnel who pass through that airport? Will they be subject to the new law? According to a Kuwait Times,
The National Assembly passed the DNA testing law on July 2, 2015 that will be mandatory on everyone in Kuwait in order to fight crime and terrorism. Kuwait Times was given exclusive and rare access to the DNA lab located at the General Department of Criminal Evidence in Dajeej in an effort to learn more about the latest developments regarding the law.
…the test will be mandatory for visitors. As the executors are responsible to collect and examine samples, we will notify relevant authorities about whoever refuses to give a sample so that they could apply the measures stipulated in the law. We will also coordinate with various airlines and foreign embassies in Kuwait so that all visitors can have a good idea about the law and the possible consequences of rejecting its procedures.”
Kuwait is a significant ally for the United States due to their strategic geographic location. Since 1991, Kuwait and the United States have held a classified Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) which contains a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Generally, a SOFA protects U.S. Department of Defense personnel under U.S. laws instead of the host nations’s laws. Therefore, DoD personal should be protected from the new Kuwaiti law requiring the collection of biometric data on all visitors. There is a general SOFA template and it usually does not protect contractors or other U.S. citizens who travel to the host nation and it would make them subject to the host nation’s laws. However, there is a case-by-case basis in which contractors can be covered in the SOFA if requested. The United States may need to request a renewal of the SOFA in order to prevent biometric data of U.S. contractors from being collected and retained by the government of Kuwait.
Image courtesy of University of Hertfordshire