Indonesians fear Duterte-style assassinations, drug war

Indonesian President Joko Widowo (right) takes a look at seized drugs in Jakarta last December before they were destroyed. Image: Bay Ismoyo/UCAN

By Katharina R. Lestari in Jakarta

Church officials and human rights activists believe Indonesia could be heading down the same path as the Philippines after the head of the country’s anti-narcotics agency recently issued a statement encouraging the shooting of drug traffickers trying to evade arrest.

They pointed to an incident on February 3 when National Narcotics Agency officers shot dead an unarmed Malaysian national as he tried to flee during a drug-smuggling bust in Jakarta.

The man allegedly tried to smuggle around 14 kg of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia by boat.

“Do not hesitate to shoot drug traffickers, drug dealers and drug users,” agency head Budi Waseso had said in December last year.

That same month President Joko Widodo claimed that 15,000 people died every year because of drugs, and called on the agency to increase its efforts to crack down on the drugs trade.

Widodo promised to come down hard on drugs and vowed to execute all drug traffickers when coming to power in October 2014.

The church and rights activists have likened the rhetoric to that of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs.

7000 killed in Philippines
At least, 7000 people have been killed in incidents linked to Manila’s anti-drug campaign, according to rights groups.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the law and human rights division of the Indonesian Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, called the National Narcotics Agency chief’s comments as incitement to “murder.”

“It is more cruel than the death penalty because criminals will be killed before they have a chance to be brought to court,” he said.

“Shooting people dead to prevent violence is counterproductive,” said Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, director of the U.N.-affiliated rights and social justice group Vivat International Indonesia.

Such a policy, he added, was against a person’s right to life, which could not be taken away by anyone including the state and law enforcement officers.

Natalius Pigai from the National Commission on Human Rights said law enforcement officers should question such comments from their leaders if they appeared to contravene the law.

“Do things according to the law otherwise it is abuse of power,” he said.

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  1. Stop the drug war with objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. The drug war is driving the problems, not fixing them. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a “hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system.” This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as the health issue that it is.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite. Let’s remember, opioids (drug) prohibition is a historical and cultural aberration, just 100 years old. We had fewer drug problems in my own grandparents’ time when opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine and cannabis could all still be bought legally over the counter. (Re)legalizing opioids would not be a “risky social experiment”, as some think. On the contrary, drugs prohibition was the reckless social experiment. And its a massive failure. Alcohol prohibition didn’t work, and opioid prohibition is failing even more miserably. The longer we’ve had drug prohibition laws in place, the worse have the social and health problems they cause gotten.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.

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