Human Genome Research Law

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        Disclaimer: The English language text below is provided by the Translation and Terminology Centre for information only; it confers no rights and imposes no obligations separate from those conferred or imposed by the legislation formally adopted and published. Only the latter is authentic. The original Latvian text uses masculine pronouns in the singular. The Translation and Terminology Centre uses the principle of gender-neutral language in its English translations. In addition, gender-specific Latvian nouns have been translated as gender-neutral terms, e.g. chairperson.

Text consolidated by Tulkošanas un terminoloģijas centrs (Translation and Terminology Centre) with amending laws of:
12. June 2003;
24 February 2005.
If a whole or part of a section has been amended, the date of the amending law appears in square brackets at the end of the section.
If a whole section, paragraph or clause has been deleted, the date of the deletion appears in square brackets beside the deleted section, paragraph or clause.

The Saeima has adopted
and the President has proclaimed the following Law:

HUMAN GENOME RESEARCH LAW

Chapter I
General Provisions

Section 1.       Terms Used in this Law

The following terms are used in this Law:

1) decoding – the personal identification of  a gene donor by using the  unique code which has been assigned to a tissue sample, a description of DNA, a description of the state of health or genealogy, or the identification of a tissue sample, description of DNA, description of the state of health or genealogy on the basis of the  identity of the gene donor;

2) tissue sample – cells, the DNA thereof, intercellular substances and body fluids taken from a human for the performance of genetic research;

3) DNA – the molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid that contains genetic information;

4) description of DNA – the digital model of DNA created as a result of the genetic research;

5) genome – the aggregate of the genes of an organism containing genetic information regarding the structure of the organism, life-processes therein and the response of the organism to the environment;

6) gene – the part of the DNA molecule which contains genetic information regarding the synthesis of an organism’s protein  or performs regulating functions by determining the structure of some individual component of the organism or the stage of the life process;

7) gene donor – a natural person who transfers a tissue sample for genetic research;

8) genome database – a set of data containing coded descriptions of the DNA, coded descriptions of the state of health, coded genealogical and genetic data, as well as coded DNA samples and coded tissue samples to be used for genetic research;

9) database of gene donors – data that allows the  identification of a gene donor and genealogy in the genome database;

10) gene researcher – a natural person or a legal person who performs genetic research;

11) genealogy – information regarding ascendants and descendants of a gene donor: given name, surname, date of birth and blood relationship;

12) genetic research – scientific research of DNA and the other components of tissues for the purpose of determining the connection between genes, gene products and hereditary characteristics;

13) genetic testing – the genetic analysis of a person, which is performed for the purpose of his or her identification or the diagnosis of diseases, as well as for the selection of preventive or treatment measures;

14) genetic data – the data  related to genes, gene products and hereditary characteristics, also the description of the DNA or the part thereof, which has been drawn up as a result of the genetic research;

15) coding – replacement of the personal data of a gene donor with the unique code which allows  the identification of the gene donor by the tissue sample, description of the DNA and description of the state of health or genealogy; and

16) description of the state of health – the data which is collected for the performance of genetic research and which provide the information regarding the state of health, the diseases from which the gene donor has suffered, his or her lifestyle, physical and social environment and hereditary characteristics.

[12 June 2003]

Section 2.       Purpose and Operation of this Law

(1) The purpose of this Law is to regulate the establishment and operation of the single genome database of the State population (hereinafter – genome database) and  genetic research, to ensure the voluntary nature and confidentiality of the gene donation in respect of the identity of gene donors, as well as to protect persons from the misuse of genetic data and the discrimination related to the genetic data.

(2) This Law regulates:

1) the provisions for the tissue sample processing, preparation of the description of the DNA, description of the state of health and genealogy in relation to the genome database;

2) the genetic research regulations in relation to the genome database and organisation of the supervision of such research;

3) the rights and obligations of gene donors, activity of the chief processor, authorised processor of the genome database and gene researchers;

4) the restrictions in relation to the use of tissue samples, the use of descriptions of the DNA compiled in the genome database, descriptions of the state of health and genealogy; and

5) coding and decoding provisions.

[12 June 2003]

Section 3.       General Principles of Human Genome Research

(1) In genetic research the interests, rights and protection of a gene donor shall be set higher than the interests of society and science.

(2) The gene donor shall participate voluntarily in the genetic research.

(3) It is prohibited to discriminate against a person in relation to his or her genetic origin and any other data acquired as the result of the genetic research, as well as on the basis of the fact that the person is or is not a gene donor.

(4) The human genome research is permitted only for the purpose of acquiring scientifically justified information that may be utilised for the improvement of the health of the person and  the whole of society.

(5) The human genome research shall be scientifically justified, and such research shall be performed, taking into account the professional criteria and guarantees of the relevant sector.

(6) Genome research of a deceased person  may not be performed if this is against his or her  expressed will  while alive.. If such a will was not expressed, it is prohibited to perform the genome research of the deceased  person.

[12 June 2003]

Section 4.       Chief Processor of Genome Database

(1) The chief processor of the genome database (hereinafter – chief processor) is the State scientific authority authorised by the Cabinet to establish and regularly supplement  the genome database. The Cabinet shall determine the requirements to be met by the chief processor and procedures by which the conformity of the State scientific authorities with the referred to requirements is evaluated.

(2) The tasks of the chief processor shall be the following:

1) to organise the taking and keeping of tissue samples, the preparation, storage and destruction of descriptions of the state of health and genealogies;

2) to perform the coding;

3) to perform the genetic research and to collect, store, destroy or issue the genetic data;

4) to provide the State Population Genome Register with the genetic data acquired as the result of the genetic research related to a particular gene donor;

5) to promote the development of genetic research in Latvia; and

6) to promote the utilisation of the results of the genetic research for the improvement of health of the person and  the whole of society.

(3) The chief processor shall provide the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Science with  an annual report regarding the utilisation of the State budget resources for the implementation of a genetic research programme financed from the State budget.

[12 June December 2003]

Section 5.       Genome Research Board

(1) The Board of the chief processor of the genome database (hereinafter – Board) is an authority which is established by the Cabinet and the main tasks of which shall be the following:

1) to examine projects and concepts related to genetic research, to provide opinions regarding such projects and concepts and to co-ordinate the implementation thereof;

2) to facilitate the provision of the public with  information  regarding the purposes and procedures of the genetic research; and

3) to represent the interests of the public in the field of genetic research.

(2) The Board shall include:

1) three members of the Saeima;

2) three representatives nominated by the Cabinet (including one representative from the Ministry of Health and one representative from the Ministry of Education and Science);

3) one representative nominated by the National Human Rights Office;

4) one representative nominated by the Latvian Academy of Science;

5) one representative nominated by the Latvian Medical Association;

6) one representative nominated by the Latvian State Medical Genetics Association;

7) one representative nominated by of the Central Medical Ethics Committee;

8) one representative nominated by the Patients’ Rights Protection office.

(3) The Cabinet shall approve the staff and by-laws of the Board by.

[16 June 2003]

Section 6.       Authorised Processor of the Genome Database

The authorised processor of the genome database (hereinafter – authorised processor) is an authorised natural person or a legal person of the chief processor who performs the individual activities related to the genome database, except the coding and decoding. The Cabinet shall determine the requirements to be met by the authorised processor.

Section 7.       State Population Genome Register

(1) The Cabinet shall determine the procedures for the establishment, supplementing and maintaining of the State Population Genome Register.

(24.02.2005. (7 February 2005)

Section 8.       Genetic Research and Genetic Testing

(1) Genetic research is permitted for the purpose of studying and describing the mutual connection between genes, the human state of health, lifestyle and physical and social environment, in order to discover, on the basis of such research, disease diagnostic and treatment methods that will help to assess the health risks of the individuals and to prevent the causes of diseases.

(2) Genetic research shall be performed in accordance with the procedures determined by the Cabinet.

(3) If the genetic research is performed irrespective of the genome database, the information regarding the state of health of the person, tissue samples and descriptions of the DNA shall be included in the genome database only upon a written consent of the gene donor. In such case, a gene researcher has the right to work with the tissue samples, which he or she has collected and stored in a genome database, within the scope of their powers as prescribed by the Law.

(4) Tissue samples taken from humans for genetic testing and the results of the relevant research shall not be included in the genome database.

(5) The genetic testing shall be performed in accordance with the medical technology approved in accordance with the procedures specified by the Cabinet.

[12 June 2003]

Section 9.       Provisions for Processing of Personal Data

The Personal Data Protection Law shall regulate the provisions for the processing of the personal data included in the genetic research, genome database and the database of gene donors by, insofar as this Law does not prescribe otherwise.

[12 July 2003]

Chapter II
Consent to Become a Gene Donor and Rights of Gene Donors

Section 10.     Consent to Become a Gene Donor

(1) Before a person participates in the genetic research, a doctor shall issue to the person written information regarding:

1) the purpose, content and duration of the genome research project;

2) potential risks;

3) the right to freely express his or her consent and to revoke it at any time; and

4) a possibility to perform genetic research outside of Latvia;

(2) The consent of a person to take tissue samples from him or her, to prepare and supplement the description of the state of health or the genealogy,  to include such description in the genome database and  use it in the genetic research and for the purpose of statistics, to bring it out of Latvia, as well as to use the genetic data shall be provided in writing.  The consent document of a gene donor shall be prepared in two copies, the document shall be signed and dated by the gene donor or his or her guardian or trustee and the chief processor or the authorised processor. One copy of the consent document shall be kept in the State Population Genome Register, the other copy shall be issued to the gene donor or his or her guardian or trustee.

(3) The State Population Genome Register shall keep the consent document of a gene donor for 75 years after the last entry characterising the tissue samples, the description of the state of health and the description of the DNA.

(4) The Cabinet shall determine the standard form of the consent document and the procedures for the completion and keeping thereof.

(5) If genetic research is performed  independently of the genome database, the consent document shall be signed and dated by the gene donor or his or her guardian or trustee and the gene researcher. One copy of the consent document shall be issued to the gene donor or his or her guardian or trustee, the other – to the gene researcher.

[12 June 2003]

Section 11.     Rights of the Gene Donor

(1) A gene donor has the following rights:

1) to become acquainted or refuse to become acquainted with the data stored in the genome database regarding the gene donor;

2) to prohibit the supplementation, renewal or verification of the description of his or her state of health in the genome database;

3) to revoke his or her consent to  being a gene donor at any time.  In such a case the tissue samples, the description of the state of health of the gene donor and any information related to the identification of a person shall be destroyed; and

4) to restrict the scope of research of his or her genome.

(2) The gene donor has no rights to request payment for the transfer of tissue samples, for the preparation or research of the description of his or her state of health or genealogy, as well as for the utilisation of research results.

[12 June 2003]

Section 12.     Genome Research of a Person Recognised as not having the Legal Capacity to Act

(1) The genome research of a person who is recognised as not having the legal capacity to act is permitted only in the case where such research provides direct benefit for the health of the person and if the risk allowed for in the research is commensurate with the gained benefit.

(2) The genome research of a person of legal age recognised as not having the legal capacity to act may be performed only with the written consent of his or her guardian or trustee and the Central Medical Ethics Committee.

(3) A child’s genome research may be performed only with the written consent of a parent (guardian) and the Orphan’s court (Parish court). The Orphan’s court (Parish court), in deciding this matter regarding  a child who is able to formulate his or her opinion shall clarify the opinion of the child and evaluate such opinion taking into account his or her age and maturity.

[12 June 2003]

Chapter III
Operations with Tissue Samples, Descriptions of the State of Health, Genealogies, DNA Descriptions and Personal Data of the Gene Donor

[12 July 2003]

Section 13.     Taking of Tissue Samples and Preparation of Descriptions of the State of Health

(1) The chief processor or the authorised processor shall take tissue samples and prepare  the descriptions of the state of health .

(2) The chief processor or the authorised processor shall prepare and supplement the description of the state of health based on the information provided by the gene donor and the information received from the medical treatment institutions regarding the gene donor.

(3) The doctor shall submit to the chief processor a completed form the standard form of which the Minister for Welfare has approved and which shall include the following information:

1) the given name, surname and personal identity number, sex and place of residence of the gene donor;

2) the medical treatment institution (name) in which tissue samples were taken; and

3) information regarding the tissue sample and the method how such tissue sample was obtained .

(4) The chief processor or the authorised processor may prepare the genealogy of a gene donor based on the data provided by the gene donor or the results of the genetic research.

(5) In taking the tissue samples for preparation of the description of the state of health, confidentiality regarding the identity of a gene donor, as well as his or her tissue samples, the description of the state of health and genealogy shall be observed.

[12 June 2003]

Section 14.     Use of Genealogies

(1) Within the scope of the genome database it is only permitted to use genealogies for the preparation of tissue samples, descriptions of the DNA and descriptions of the state of health on the basis of blood relationship.

(2) The chief processor may provide the gene researcher with the information regarding the mutual connection between the coded tissue samples, coded DNA samples and coded descriptions of the state of health on the basis of blood relationship in accordance with Section 17, Paragraph two of this Law.

Section 15.     Storage and Bringing out of Latvia of Tissue Samples, Descriptions of DNA and Descriptions of the State of Health

(1) The chief processor shall store the coded tissue samples, coded descriptions of the DNA and coded descriptions of the state of health in the genome database in Latvia in accordance with the procedures specified by the Cabinet.

(2) The Board may, on the basis of a submission of the chief processor, authorised processor or gene researcher, issue a permit for bringing the parts of coded tissue samples (aliquots) and copies of the coded descriptions of the state of health out of Latvia upon  the written consent of a gene donor only in the following cases:

1) for the performance of genetic research within the scope of international medical, genetic and bio-pharmaceutics scientific projects; or

2) for the establishment of the internationally acknowledged genetic database for medical and ethnogenetic research, if the relevant agreement regarding the establishment of the genetic database in Latvia has been entered into.

(3) The Cabinet shall determine the procedures by which the permits for bringing the parts of coded tissue samples (aliquots) and copies of coded descriptions of the state of health out of Latvia are issued, as well as the procedures for the control of the use of tissue samples.

[12 June 2003]

Section 16.     Other Rights Related to Genetic Research

(1) It is only permitted to use the genome database for  scientific research, research and treatment of the diseases of a gene donor, research of the health of  society and for statistical purposes. It is prohibited to use the genome database for any other purpose.

(2) The chief processor, authorised processor and gene researcher are entitled to handle the coded tissue samples, coded descriptions of the state of health and coded genealogies within the scope of powers prescribed in the Law.

(3) The doctor of a gene donor has the right to receive a decoded description of the state of health of the gene donor included in the genome database if  it is necessary for the treatment of the gene donor and a written consent of the gene donor has been received.

[12 June 2003]

Section 17.     Issuance of Tissue Samples, Descriptions of DNA, Descriptions of the State of Health and Genealogies

(1) The Cabinet shall determine the procedures for the issuance of coded tissue samples, coded descriptions of DNA, coded descriptions of the state of health and coded genealogies, as well as the sample of the issuance statement form and procedures for the completion and storage thereof.

(2) Upon the consent of the Board the chief processor may issue the coded tissue samples, coded descriptions of the state of health and coded genealogies included in the genome database or parts thereof as the set of data for such genetic research in Latvia which is not related to the genome database on  the condition that such set of data includes tissue samples, descriptions of DNA and descriptions of the state of health of at least five gene donors and that the provisions of Section 8 of this Law are complied with.  In such case a payment may be requested for the use  of coded tissue samples, coded descriptions of the DNA, coded descriptions of the state of health and coded genealogies, however, it may not exceed the costs related  to the acquisition, preparation and storage of the relevant samples in the genome database; moreover, the chief processor may not profit as a result of such use. This requirement shall not apply to the issuance of data to the gene donor or the doctor of the gene donor.

(3) [12 June 2003]

[12 June 2003]

Section 18.     Destruction of Personal Data, Tissue Samples, Descriptions of DNA and Descriptions of the State of Health of the Gene Donor

The Cabinet shall determine procedures for the destruction of personal data, tissue samples, descriptions of the DNA and descriptions of the state of health of a gene donor, as well as the standard from of the destruction statement and procedures for the completion and storage thereof.

[12 June 2003]

Chapter IV
Coding and Decoding

Section 19.     Coding

(1) Immediately after the receipt of the tissue samples, descriptions of DNA, descriptions of the state of health and genealogies in the genome database, the chief processor shall assign a unique code consisting of at least sixteen different symbols to each tissue sample, description of DNA, description of the state of health and genealogy. The chief processor shall receive a permit from the State Data Inspection for the use of the selected code assigning method.

(2) The chief processor shall replace with a code all data in respect of tissue samples, description of the DNA and description of the state of health providing the possibility to again identify a gene donor, as well as replace with a code the given name, surname, personal identity number and place of residence of the gene donor.

(3) The chief processor shall indicate the code assigned to a tissue sample, description of the DNA, description of the state of health or genealogy on the consent document of a gene donor.  Within a time period of three days after the coding the chief processor shall transfer the consent document with the code indicated therein to the State Population Genome Register and this code shall be the only possible decoding key.

(4) The chief processor, authorised processor and gene researchers are allowed to mark tissue samples, descriptions of DNA, descriptions of the state of health and genealogies only with such codes which the chief processor assigned to such tissue samples, descriptions of DNA, descriptions of the state of health and genealogies .

Section 20.     Decoding

The State Population Genome Register is permitted to decode data only for the following purposes:

1) to destroy tissue samples, descriptions of DNA and descriptions of the state of health;

2) to provide access to the data of a gene donor included in the genome database, except the genealogy, upon his or her  request in writing;

3) to renew, supplement or verify the description of the state of health of a gene donor, except the case where the gene donor has prohibited in writing to supplement, renew or verify the description of his or her state of health;

4) to take a new DNA sample with  the written consent of the gene donor if the tissue sample has been destroyed or does not contain sufficient genetic information;

5) to make changes in the genealogy of a gene donor if the results of the genetic research are in contradiction with the genealogy previously prepared or to provide new information on such genealogy; and

6) to issue the description of the state of health of a gene donor to the doctor of the gene donor upon his or her written request, in which the necessity to acquire information has been justified, and with a written consent of the gene donor.

[12 June 2003]

Chapter V
Supervision and Procedures for Examination of Complaints

Section 21.     Data Protection Supervisory Authority

The State Data Inspection shall perform the supervision  of the collection of the descriptions of the state of health and genealogical data, coding and decoding of tissue samples, descriptions of DNA, descriptions of the state of health and genealogical data, as well as processing of tissue samples, descriptions of DNA, descriptions of the state of health and genealogical data .

Section 22.     Compliance with Principles of Ethics

The Central Medical Ethics Committee shall evaluate the compliance with principles of ethics in the genetic research and the establishment and operation of the genome database.

Section 23.     Examination of Complaints

(1) A person may submit a complaint regarding violations of this Law to the State Data Inspection.

(2) Decisions by the State Data Inspection may be appealed in the court.

This Law shall come into force on 1 January 2004.

[12 June 2003]

This Law has been adopted by the Saeima on 13 June 2002.

President                                                                                             V. Vīķe-Freiberga

Rīga, 3 July 2002

Page last updated: June 11, 2013 09:15 PM