DNA TESTS ON DEAD BODIES EXCEPTIONAL ON PROPERTY DISPUTES.

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DNA test kits. /PHOTO COURTESY.

BY SAM ALFAN.

Paternity tests on dead bodies can only be conducted strictly on compelling grounds, the High Court in Uganda has declared.

Warring beneficiaries claiming property of deceased persons must first prove kinship before seeking paternity tests, the court said.

High Court Judge Allan Paul Nshimye threw out an application by businessman Mpumwire Magambo seeking orders requiring his 21 siblings to undergo DNA tests to prove their paternity before they qualify for distribution of their late father’s wealth.

The Judge pointed out that Mpumwire had sued only one sibling, Amanda, and excluded the rest. He had applied for exhumation of the patriarch’s body to facilitate the DNA examination of his offspring.

Justice Nshimye observed that Mpumwire had not demonstrated that the late Magambo disowned any of his children in his lifetime. Further, he had not provided evidence of the existence of safely stored samples of the deceased to facilitate DNA tests, the court said.

The Judge said exhumation of dead bodies can only be conducted after evaluation of compelling grounds. “Courts of law ought to order any exhumation for DNA paternity testing purposes as a last resort,” he reasoned.

In line with the principle of fair hearing, the Judge noted, all parties against whom the DNA examination are targeted must participate in the proceedings “to avoid a situation where two siblings connive to consent to orders affecting the whole family.”

“Courts ought to prioritize sibling kinship tests if the answer the children require is to confirm if they are siblings. A sibling kinship test can be pursued before seeking an order of DNA paternity tests where the deceased is buried,” the Judge said.

The court said medical technological advances had made it possible to determine paternity among between children of the same father. “A sibling kinship test of males alone and female alone would eliminate the need for exhumation of the deceased, ” Justice Nshimye said.

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