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Students the next target of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs

Sydney Morning Herald - August 11, 2017

Lindsay Murdoch, Bangkok Students at Philippine schools, colleges and universities will be drug tested under President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly drugs crackdown in a move critics say could threaten their safety and right to education.

A new presidential order will allow police, who have been accused of committing rampant summary executions of drugs suspects, to extend their operations to school grounds and campuses.

Thousands of Filipinos have been targeted for assassination after their names appeared on neighbourhood "drugs watch lists" since the government campaign began last year.

The Philippine Commission of Higher Education is the latest education body to approve local government officials, police and other law enforcement personnel carrying out "any drug-related operations" on school premises with approval of school administrators.
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This includes the random drug testing of students. The order requires education authorities to keep confidential the results of tests. But the authorities will be empowered to punish students including expelling those who test positive.

Students applying to enter schools will also be required to undergo testing and could be denied admission if they test positive.
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"Mandatory drug testing of students puts them in the crosshairs of Duterte's abusive drugs war, risking the creation of a school-to-cemetery track for students testing positive for drugs," said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"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," he said.

Critics say testing students for drugs could amount to degrading treatment and may deter them from attending school, but education officials say the tests will primarily be used to identify drug users for rehabilitation.

Philippine drug rehabilitation programs are struggling to cope with the huge number of Filipinos who have sought treatment.

More than 7000 mostly poor Filipinos have been killed since Mr Duterte initiated the crackdown that has been condemned by the United Nations, United States, European Union, opposition parties and human rights groups.

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/students-the-next-target-of-philippine-president-rodrigo-dutertes-war-on-drugs-20170811-gxu914.html.

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