Thursday, November 5, 2015

IDF considering limited mandatory drug testing

Haaretz reports here that the IDF is considering changes in its effort to reduce drug use by personnel. Excerpts:
The Israel Defense Forces Manpower Directorate is considering requiring soldiers serving in sensitive positions to undergo mandatory and regular drug testing. The military is currently conducting preparations to examine its policies on requiring soldiers to submit urine samples to detect drug use. Today, refusing to provide such a sample to test for recent drug use is considered a violation of military regulations – and soldiers can be imprisoned for refusing, and not just for drug use. Such a refusal may also lead to a soldier having a criminal record. 
Currently, the IDF relies on information on specific soldiers before the Military Police open an investigation in a unit, said a source in the IDF. The army spends considerable resources on detectives and undercover agents in investigating possible drug use inside the military. Almost half of the Military Police’s intelligence efforts are spent on drug investigations. 
A change in policy requiring tens of thousands of soldiers to provide urine samples on a regular basis still requires a legal examination, he said. The IDF views soldiers who serve in sensitive positions – such as Military Police investigators, technicians and drivers – as needing to have a major sense of responsibility, and therefore the IDF is considering a limited supervision of such soldiers through regular drug testing. 
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Military law allows such tests to be conducted even without prior information about possible drug use, but this requires written agreement from the soldier to conduct the test. In the past, the IDF often conducted “surprise testing” in which large numbers of soldiers were required to supply urine samples, often an entire unit. But after the military defender’s office petitioned the court against such actions, the Military Police were instructed that they must make it clear to the soldiers the legal significance of these tests – and their rights. As a result, the number of soldiers who agreed of their free will to submit urine samples decreased, and such operations have almost disappeared.

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