The Jakarta Post
Following President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's statement that the nation faces an emergency due to drug abuse and trafficking, government officials say they will work to rehabilitate 100,000 addicts in 2015, promising not to prosecute those who volunteer for treatment.
National Narcotics Agency (BNN) chief Comr. Gen. Anang Iskandar said on Saturday that 18,000 additional drug abusers would be sent to rehabilitation centers this year.
'We hope that by rehabilitating drug addicts we can dramatically decrease demand and drug trafficking will no longer be a problem in this country,' he said.
To reach the target, the BNN chief said officials would work with the Health Ministry and Social Affairs Ministry to provide rehabilitation facilities.
According to recent BNN data, around 2.2 percent, or 4 million people, of the total population used drugs in 2011.
The number is up from 2008, when 1.99 percent of the population, or around 3.3 million people, were prosecuted for drug use or were actively using drugs.
Anang acknowledged that drug abusers rarely sought rehabilitation out of fear of prosecution.
'I guarantee that if you are a drug addict who reports yourself to a hospital or Puskesmas [community health center], you will not be charged with anything,' he said.
Health Minister Nila Farid Moeloek said there were 316 posts located in every province in general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and puskesmas community health centers where drug users could seek treatment.
Drug users would be assessed by medical practitioners, who would then recommend in-patient or out-patient treatment.
'We have to bear in mind that most drug addicts are still young and hold the future of this country,' she said.
Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said that the ministry had dispatched 113 counselors and 117 certified social workers to reach the goal.
However, Khofifah acknowledged that the number of workers would not be enough and the ministry needed an additional 700 counselors and social workers.
'Right now our budget is only Rp 41 billion [US$3.2 million], but we need at least Rp 127 billion more to train more people to reach the target,' she said.
Despite the lenient treatment afforded drug abusers, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno recently said that the government would step up its war on drug traffickers.
'There are still a few countries that oppose the death penalty given to drug traffickers, but we insist that the law must be upheld. Around 40 to 50 people die each day from drug use,' he said.
Six drug convicts, including five foreigners, were executed on Jan. 18 despite domestic and international pressure.
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