Why are finger prints collected from Belarus conscripts?

The Barysau Informer writes that dactyloscopy helped the local police detect criminals among conscripts. The European Radio for Belarus explores why finger prints are taken from the Belarusian citizens.

According to the military conscription office in Barysau, this helps find criminals not only among conscripts, but also among officers.

“We have thus spotted many officers who were missing at their military stations when they were young,” said an officer from the conscription office.

All young recruits also have their finger prints taken after a medical checkup before joining the military service.

“This has been a mandatory procedure over the past three conscription campaigns. We would not do it before. Presently, if a draftee is found OK for military service, he must leave his finger prints,” said an officer from a Leninski district conscription office in Minsk.

The law on dactyloscopy was passed in 2003 and enacted by a presidential decree in late 2004.

Under the law, dactyloscopy can be voluntary or mandatory. Military servicemen, police officers, revenue authority staff and aircraft crews are subjected to the mandatory fingerprinting.

Dactyloscopy is also mandatory for criminals or suspects under administrative and penal codes, an Interior Ministry officer told the European Radio for Belarus.

“For example, if you witnessed a house break-in, our detectives would of course collect all finger prints in order to identify the ones belonging to the witness or the criminal. If you commit minor hooliganism act, your finger prints will definitely be taken,” he said.

Uladzimir Labkovich, a lawyer from the Spring human rights center, tells the European Radio for Belarus when citizens are obliged to leave their finger prints and when they are not.

“Mandatory fingerprinting is possible in two cases: when a person has committed or suspected of a crime and when a person has committed an administrative offense which leads to administrative arrest. In all the other cases, mandatory dactyloscopy is not allowed. This law is routinely violated by police officers who take finger prints even without administrative protocols or without administrative prosecution,” Mr Labkovich said.

If a citizen is not a perpetrator but only a witness, he or she can leave his or her fingerprints voluntarily, according to the lawyer.