Jokowi’s tough stance on drugs stirs debate
Lawmakers back ‘shoot-on-sight’ order; rights groups doubt impact
including at least eight foreigners, have been killed by the police so far this year, compared with just 18 last year.
The police have yet to confirm these figures, but many human rights groups have started to question if the killings have had any impact on Indonesia’s war on drugs.
Amnesty Indonesia director Usman Hamid said: “Not only is this unlawful, it will also do nothing to address the root causes that lead to drug use in the first place.”
Others, like Human Rights Watch’s Asia division deputy director Phelim Kine, suggest that efforts to address the problem of drugs and crime “require the security forces to respect everyone’s basic rights”.
The prevailing thinking in local law enforcement is that the number of drug dealers killed still pales in comparison to the number of people who have died from substance abuse, said National Narcotics Agency (BNN) spokesman Sulistiandriatmoko.
A 2015 survey by the University of Indonesia found that between 30 and 40 people die from drug abuse each day in the country, he added.
Mr Sulistiandriatmoko, who goes by one name, said he believes the drug situation is at an “emergency” stage, and Indonesia cannot afford to let up on its fight against drugs.
In fact, the problem is so widespread that the police are roping in the Indonesian military to help, just like they have in the fight against terrorists. The move could lead to an escalation of Mr Joko’s anti-drug war.
“Drug smugglers are the nation’s enemies, hence the military should have a right to use force to fight these enemies,” said Mr Sulistiandriatmoko.
But his boss and BNN chief Budi Waseso has come out to assure critics that Indonesia will not replicate Mr Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
The new “shoot-on-sight” policy has also raised questions over Mr Joko’s stand on the death penalty, and the effectiveness of capital punishment as an anti-drug deterrent.
Indonesia has some of the world’s toughest drug laws, and remains one of 33 countries that still use capital punishment for drug-related offences. Since it lifted a four-year moratorium on the death penalty in 2013, 18 people – all drug traffickers, most of them foreigners – have been sent to face the firing squad.
However, Ms Claudia Stoicescu, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, said executions and crackdowns on drug offenders have not yielded any long-term benefits for Indonesia.
She said: “Far from having a deterrent effect, the number of drug-related crimes in Indonesia increased in the months after the executions were carried out in January and April 2015.”
Indonesian police with two suspects after a raid on a warehouse on the outskirts of Jakarta on July 21, where the authorities seized Ecstasy pills. There has been a rise in the trafficking of Ecstasy, heroin, and methamphetamine into Indonesia, and lawmakers say the country needs to get tough on its war on drugs.