Government supports army’s systematic drug tests

16th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

The Swiss government wants to allow the army to conduct regular drug tests on soldiers, instead of the current practice of testing only when there is suspicion of drug use. The move is the result of an incident at January’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

According to a report in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, the Swiss cabinet plans to recommend that parliament accept a motion allowing regular military drug tests. In January, a dozen soldiers guarding the World Economic Forum were found to have been using cocaine and marijuana.

The parliamentary motion was brought forward by parliamentarian Daniel Jositsch of the leftwing Social Democrats, who said he that in the wake of the Davos incident he was “surprised that the army cannot order preventative drug tests”.

Since soldiers are in the service of the state while performing military service, carrying weapons or driving vehicles, Jositsch finds it should be possible to test them for drug abuse. He urged cabinet as well as his parliamentary colleagues to quickly create the legal basis for such testing, and cabinet has now responded in favour of the move. It must still be approved by both houses of parliament to be made law.

Currently, minor drug abuse cases in the Swiss army involving, for example, up to 10 grams of cannabis, one gram of cocaine or heroin or five synthetic drug pills, are punished by the responsible commander without involvement of military justice authorities. Punishments range from a fine of up to CHF500 ($500), curfews or military detention. Serious cases can be referred to civilian criminal justice authorities.

Because of punishments being left to a commander’s discretion, statistics on drug abuse in the Swiss army are difficult to gather. However, the NZZ am Sonntag reported that many army higher-ups acknowledge drug abuse to be a problem.


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