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Lawmaker derides Army policy, says wristband violates 'human rights'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Army's decision to ask soldiers to wear wristbands that read “I won't drink and drive” during days off was yesterday criticized by an opposition lawmaker, who called the policy a violation of human rights.

According to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Lawmaker Hsueh Ling (薛凌), some soldiers have been complaining about a recent Army-initiated policy to curb driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol among military personnel.

The policy asks soldiers to put stickers with anti-DUI slogans on their cars, cellphones and even wear wristbands with the line“I will never drink and drive” during vacations, Hsueh said during a legislative session yesterday.

The DPP lawmaker said these initiatives violate the human rights of military personnel and have had little effect in reducing DUI incidents among military personnel.

According to a recent study, a total of 520 military personnel were charged with DUIs between 2010 and 2012. A majority of the military personnel involved — 399 — are volunteer soldiers, as opposed to those serving under conscription requirements, the lawmaker said.

Asked to comment, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言), who fielded questions at the same session, said the Ministry of National Defense (MND) did not give an order to launch such anti-DUI measures within Army units.

Only a few units in the 8th Army Corps in Southern Taiwan have carried out these recently-launched policies, Hsia said.

But the Army Command last week ordered these units to stop asking soldiers to carry out the orders because it deemed such measures “inappropriate,” according to Army Chief of Staff General Hau Yi-chih (郝以知).

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A soldier displays an armband that reads “I won't drink and drive,” yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Hsueh Ling (薛凌) noted that many soldiers have been complaining about the recent Army-initiated policy to curb driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol among military personnel. (CNA)

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