French government approves DNA tests for migrants

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The French Senate has approved a controversial law that would allow voluntary DNA tests for immigrants seeking to join family members in France.

According to lawmakers, the new legislation will speed up the process for genuine applicants. Critics of the law accuse it of being racist in nature and would exclude those unable to pay for the tests.

Senegal's president, Abdoulaye Wade, denounced the DNA testing as "not respectful of human freedom".

"We are against these DNA tests. It is not to question science but with all the uncertainties that scientific judgments pose -- then, frankly, I do not see what DNA tests can do," he said.

Senegal has been working closely with the European Union in attempting to stem illegal immigration.

"These DNA tests are inconceivable for us," said African Union (AU) chief executive Alpha Oumar Konare during an interview at AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital. "They are unacceptable at an ethical, moral and cultural level."

Proponents of the bill argue that 12 other European countries have similar policies.

The new legislation would also ask immigrant family members over the age of 16 to take a test in their country of origin that demonstrates a good knowledge of French language and values.

The test would be paid for by the French government -- part of a last minute change to the bill by Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux before the Senate vote. His other change would only require the examination of maternal DNA to prevent paternity suits arising from the tests.

They would also have to prove that their family in France could support them and earn at least a minimum wage.