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Jakarta Post

Misguided drug laws

  • Sudirman Nasir

Makassar   /   Sun, July 31 2011   /  07:00 am

Like many other countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s response to drugs use has been characterized by moral panic, and an oppressive and punitive approach.

The application of a repressive approach became more apparent after the launch of Indonesia’s “national war on drugs” in 1997 in accordance with the announcement of the first Indonesian law on narcotics (Law No. 22/1997) and the first law on psychotropic (Law No. 5/1997).

These laws were introduced in the late term of Soeharto’s regime and the meanings embedded in both laws and the ways they have been enforced have generated various forms of problems for drug users.

It is worth noting that these two laws make little distinction between drug use and drug dealing. The laws categorize both actions deserving severe punishment.

The laws also allow sweeping arrests and lengthy prison sentences for tr...