CHR chief warns vs random drug testing in schools

Published by rudy Date posted on January 16, 2009

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) yesterday expressed support “in principle” for the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign but warned officials to provide “additional layers of protection” for Filipino students.

The CHR said that without the necessary guidelines to implement the anti-drug campaign, particularly random drug testing on students, it “can potentially put the child’s human rights in danger of being violated.”

CHR chairperson Leila de Lima in a statement said that anti-drug measures should be “fully compliant with international and constitutional standards upholding, promoting, and protecting the rights of the child.”

“On the issue of random drug testing, the government is advised to internalize the spirit and principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,” De Lima said. “The Convention is very clear in recognizing that a child as an individual is entitled to the protection of his or her human rights.”

“The commission fears that in the absence of guidelines formulated in a democratic, consultative manner, this random drug testing focused on the youth of this land, especially in the hands of overzealous law enforcement officers, can potentially put the child’s human rights in danger of being violated,” she added.

She said the implementation of random drug testing “immediately destabilizes” the basic human rights of the child against self-incrimination, the right of the child to be protected in his or her person, effects, and correspondence; and the right of the child against unlawful searches and seizures.

De Lima said that the random drug testing likewise has the capacity to make the Filipino child “insecure” in his or her own person, which is “completely antithetical to the ideals and protective stance of the Convention, which this government is duty-bound to implement.”

The CHR recommended that the government have a “more thoughtful, comprehensive, child-sensitive approach” in dealing with the issue through a series of dialogues and consultations with all agencies and stakeholders concerned.

“In a policy viewpoint, the unit of analysis in addressing the endemic drug problem should be focused on the institutional roots of the problem, not on the potential and most vulnerable victim of the drug menace: the Filipino child,” De Lima pointed out.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. raised the point of constitutionality regarding the mandatory drug testing, while Sen. Panfilo Lacson challenged those who want to question the order by raising the issue before the courts.

“I now have my doubts about its constitutionality, this (random drug test) might need testing in the Supreme Court,” Pimentel said.– Katherine Adraneda with Christina Mendez

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