Wed, Jul 24, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Drug tests violate rights: group

Staff writer, with CNA

The Hsinchu City Government’s introduction of drug testing in schools is misguided, ineffectual and an infringement of human rights, a local civic group said yesterday.

The Humanistic Education Foundation said the city’s policy of carrying out urine tests in junior and senior-high schools as part of a drug prevention program is also an abuse of power and a violation of the law.

The policy was introduced in May with a pilot program in one junior and one senior-high school, and is expected to be expanded to other schools in the city.

The city government said the aim is to stop the use of recreational drugs, particularly ketamine, among school children.

The foundation said in a news release that the Ministry of Education, which is in charge of the matter, is obviously defending the policy.

The ministry has said there is no question of breaking the law once the person agrees to the test, according to the foundation.

It called on the Control Yuan to redress the action taken by the city government.

Hsinchu Parents’ Association deputy director Chen Mei-ling (陳美玲) said that while she is opposed to drug use, she thinks the city government’s approach is too crude.

Even criminal suspects should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, so school children should not be presumed to be guilty of drug use, she said.

In addition, she said, there is also the problem of whether the test is being carried out in the right way.

“One should have basic respect for children,” she said.

National Yangming University professor Huang Song-lih (黃嵩立) said he opposes the policy, which he described as wrong, ineffectual and an illegal way to combat drug use.

He said the urine is collected under supervision, which is a violation of the students’ privacy and their right to make their own decisions.

“This is something that should be done within the law, but the law currently does not allow for such actions,” he said.

He suggested that the city government devise a more comprehensive counseling program for students and school children, and stop putting its resources into misguided policies.

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