The Jakarta Post
Indonesia will begin implementing a recent agreement that announced a preference for rehab centers over prisons for habitual drug users with the launching of a pilot project in 16 cities and regencies over the month of August.
Initiated by the Law and Human Rights Ministry, the new approach was introduced in March following a series of meetings between several state institutions that were held in the wake of last year's deadly riot in Tanjung Gusta Penitentiary, Medan, North Sumatra, which housed 1,700 drug convicts ' 60 percent of the prison's total population.
National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Comr. Gen. Anang Iskandar said on Thursday during a commemoration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking at the Vice Presidential Palace that the new plan would take effect in 16 areas.
'We have agreed to start implementing a pilot project of the [new] rehabilitation measures in 16 cities or regencies in August of this year,' Anang said.
The 16 areas, including South Jakarta, East Jakarta, South Tangerang, Semarang, Surabaya, Makassar, Samarinda, Balikpapan, Padang, Sleman, Pontianak and Riau Islands, were chosen as they were already equipped with adequate rehabilitation facilities.
The move, Anang said, would help reduce drug use among the estimated 4 million recreational drug users nationwide. He later identified three problems hindering drug eradication efforts in the country: the lack of rehabilitation centers, rampant drug trafficking and the stigmatization of drug users as criminals.
'It [the program] provides hope that the public will no longer see drug users as sick people whose drug habits cannot be stopped or prevented,' Anang added. 'They [drug users] should be supported so that they no longer use drugs.'
The agreement will see the country form joint assessment teams composed of medical and legal personnel at national, provincial, municipal and regency levels to determine whether a suspect is a drug dealer or a user. Users would then be redefined as victims.
'They should be supported so that they no longer use drugs,'the police general said.
The existing 2009 Narcotics Law ' which already allows judges to hand down rehabilitation orders rather than jail sentences to drug users and drug-abuse victims ' is comprehensive enough in its provisions recommending rehabilitation. But, it has yet to generate positive results, as there is no common understanding or approach to implementing the law among the seven institutions dealing with the effects of drug abuse, thereby undermining judges' efforts.
In the last four years, according to Anang, there were 108,701 drug-related cases involving 134,177 persons. Indonesia also handled 40 money drug-related money laundering cases and has seized assets worth Rp 163.1 billion (US$13.6 million).