DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The plan of the Duterte administration to implement a mandatory drug test in colleges and universities threatened students’ safety and education rights, an international human rights group said Saturday.
“The college drug testing plan is a dangerous outgrowth of the Duterte administration’s abusive ‘war on drugs,’” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
HRW claimed that by allowing the mandatory drug test in higher educational institutions, “this will effectively allow the police to extend their anti-drug operations to college and university campuses, placing students at grave risk.”
While the implementation would undergo the normal process of approval, HRW believed it will put the students in harm’s way.
“Imposing mandatory drug testing of students when Philippine police are committing rampant summary killings of alleged drug users puts countless children in danger for failing a drug test,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“Education officials should be protecting students, not putting them in harm’s way through mandatory drug tests,” he pointed out.
HRW’s statement came as the Commission on Higher Education approved a memorandum order on the implementation of the mandatory drug testing for all college students effective at the start of the school year.
But the New York-based human rights group said CHED’s order does not require, but “strongly encourages,” schools of higher education to impose random mandatory drug testing of students and applicants. It follows the Department of Education’s announcement in May that it will launch random drug tests of primary, elementary, and high school students later this year.”
HRW said the government’s plan raises human rights concerns.
“Taking a child’s bodily fluids, whether blood or urine, without their consent, may violate the right to bodily integrity and constitute arbitrary interference with their privacy and dignity. Depending on the manner in which such testing occurs, it could also constitute degrading treatment, and may deter children from attending school or college for reasons unrelated to any potential drug use, depriving them of their right to an education,” the group said.
“In many situations, excluding a student from studies due to a positive drug test may also be a disproportionate limitation on a child’s right to education,” HRW added.
The group has long called on the government and its multilateral donors “to ensure that its drug-dependence treatment programs are voluntary, community-based, and comport with international standards and human rights principles.”
“Mandatory drug testing of students puts them in the crosshairs of Duterte’s abusive drug war, risking the creation of a school-to-cemetery track for students testing positive for drugs,” Kine said. “The Philippine government should educate students about the health hazards of illegal drugs—not make them targets for unlawful killings by police and their agents.” (davaotoday.com)