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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Malaysia may fingerprint babies
Mother and baby
Police in Malaysia want to record the fingerprints of all babies
Plans to fingerprint all newborn babies in Malaysia have come under attack from civil liberties groups.

Police officers hope to store the information on a computer database to help catch criminals in the future.

They are proposing that all newborns should also have their palm prints and footprints recorded.

Rights groups have described the proposal as ill-conceived and accuse the police of wanting to treat all children as potential criminals.

'Improved detection rate'

Police hope that computer software could allow for the growth of baby hands and feet to adult proportions, and match marks found at crime scenes to innocent dabs given years before.

Officers believe the move would improve the force's detection rate, and they may ask for a change in the law to allow it.

However, civil liberties groups in Malaysia have dismissed the fingerprinting proposal as poorly thought-out and illogical.

The rights group Voice of the Malaysian People, or Suaram, has accused the police of wanting to treat all children as potential criminals.

It says such a move would create a climate of fear and intimidation.

The national human rights society in Malaysia, Hakam, has called the fingerprinting suggestion ludicrous, saying it is worthy of Big Brother in George Orwell's novel 1984.

The BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says that if the Malaysian police get their way, the country's children will have their first brush with the law in the maternity ward.

Malaysia's home affairs ministry has declined to comment on the plan to the BBC.

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