Date
21 August 2017
ACAN chairman Daniel Shek (3rd from left) has vigorously defended a scheme that will give police wider powers to test suspected drug users. Photo: HK government
ACAN chairman Daniel Shek (3rd from left) has vigorously defended a scheme that will give police wider powers to test suspected drug users. Photo: HK government

ACAN dismisses opposition to compulsory drug testing

The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN), a non-statutory advisory body to the Hong Kong government, said on Wednesday that the majority of the city’s residents support the agency’s “Rescue” Drug Testing Scheme (RDT).

A public poll has revealed that most people support the program, ACAN said, although 56 percent of written submissions in another public consultation showed that they were not in favor, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

Under the scheme, police can force people to undergo tests if there was “reasonable suspicion” that they had taken drugs.

Some activists said the ACAN appears to have selectively picked results that are favorable to its stance in rolling out the proposed compulsory drug testing scheme.

ACAN chairman Professor Daniel Shek said 2,791 written submissions were received during the four-month consultation period between September 2013 and January 2014. Later in February, ACAN commissioned the Public Opinion Programme (POP) of the University of Hong Kong to conduct an opinion poll.

Shek added that over 90 percent of the 1,000-plus respondents surveyed in the opinion poll supported the RDT, and 61 percent of the people felt the scheme would be effective in identifying drug abusers for early treatment.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of the written submissions collected during the consultation period supported the RDT scheme, while 54 percent took the opposing view.

Shek said over 90 percent of the opponents from the consultation were members of the legal sector or human rights groups, who are concerned about the infringement of human rights and possible abuse of power by law enforcement officers.

Shek went on to claim that since the written submissions were submitted anonymously, it is possible a person can submit a similar submission ten times in order to magnify the impact.

The ACAN has suggested that a second public consultation be in 2015, especially on topics such as ways to lower the possibility of abuse of power. Concern groups have already said that they might boycott the consultation in light of the ACAN’s handling of the matter, the report said.

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EL/AC/RC

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