Global database to identify missing persons launched

I-Familia can identify missing persons through family DNA and help the police solve cold cases in member countries

Published - June 05, 2021 10:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Interpol logo. File

The Interpol logo. File

The Interpol has launched a new global database named “I-Familia” to identify missing persons through family DNA and help the police solve cold cases in member countries.

Describing it as a ground breaking database officially launched this month, the Interpol in a statement said it applied cutting-edge scientific research and used the DNA of relatives to identify missing persons or unidentified human remains around the world.

“In late 2020, DNA from the children of an Italian man missing since 2004 was added to I-Familia and then checked against DNA from all unidentified human remains in the system. A match was found between the children’s DNA and that of the body found in the Adriatic Sea, closing a case that had gone cold 16 years earlier,” it said.

DNA kinship matching is used mostly in cases where a direct sample of the missing person is not available. “I-Familia is the first global database to automatically control for such differences without requiring knowledge of the missing person’s genetic ancestry and provide standardised guidelines on what constitutes a match,” said the Interpol.

More than 12,000 active Yellow Notices, which are international police alerts for missing persons, had been issued by the Interpol by late 2020.

“For families facing the uncertainty of whether their loved ones are alive or dead, sometimes for many years, the emotional toll can be crushing. The absence of a death certificate can also have considerable administrative and financial implications,” it said.

I-Familia has three components: a dedicated global database to host the DNA profiles provided by relatives, held separately from any criminal data; DNA matching software called Bonaparte, developed by Dutch company Smart Research; and interpretation guidelines developed by Interpol.

The Interpol said the processing of DNA data was carried out via secure communication channels. “Family members must give their consent for their data to be used for international searching. There is no nominal data attached to the profile, which is submitted in the form of an alphanumerical code,” it added.

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