Iraq imposes mandatory drug test for postgraduate applicants

Dilan Sirwan

May. 15, 2024 • 2 min read
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Iraq has implemented mandatory drug tests for postgraduate degree applicants, aiming to address the surge in drug use.

Iraq on Tuesday imposed mandatory drug tests for all who want to pursue a postgraduate degree in the country’s universities.

The letter from the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Haidar Abed Dhahd, sent to all universities in the country, dictated that all new applicants for a postgraduate degree shall undergo a drug test.

The letter further added that the test results should be from governmental institutions that specialize in conducting said tests, and should be added to the list of documents that applicants submit to the universities upon their application to study.

“This decision is for those that are accepted into post-graduate studies this year, they all need to be tested for illicit substance use,” spokesperson to the Ministry of Higher Education Haider al-Aboodi told The New Region on Wednesday.

Following the 2003 US invasion, Iraq has seen tremendous increase in drug trafficking and use, despite continuous attempts to combat the phenomena.

Iraqi politicians have previously warned against the rapid increase of drugs in the country.

Earlier this month, Iraqi state media reported that security forces had dismantled seven drug trafficking networks in the provinces of Baghdad, Diwaniyah, and Muthanna.

In July 2023, Iraq announced that it had seized a captagon lab in Muthanna province, the first of its kind in the country.

Despite consecutive government cabinet’s pledging to fight the drug phenomena in the country and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani having ordered the establishment of rehabilitation centers across all Iraqi provinces, the country’s infrastructure is still too weak to combat the rapid increase in drug use.

Article 27 of the Iraqi Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Law dictates that any suspect charged with exporting, importing, producing, or planting narcotic substances is subject to either a death penalty or life sentence, leaving no room for redemption. 

Prison cells across the country are often seen overcrowded with people. Both drug dealers and users are inseparably squeezed into cells together, with few rehab centers available across the country. This has in turn increased cases of relapse even after one has served prison time.

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Author Dilan Sirwan

Dilan Sirwan is an Erbil-based Kurdish journalist covering Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. He focuses on political, economic, and social issues.


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