The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo reiterated his tough stance on drugs at an event to mark World Anti-Narcotics Day on Friday, calling for a united front on the eradication of drug abuse.
Citing a high incidence of drug abuse in the country and the debilitating impact on the nation's future, Jokowi called on relevant parties to step up their efforts in the war on drugs.
'I believe, given drugs' destructive power, there is no other choice for us but to declare war against drugs,' he said in a speech during the event at the State Palace.
Jokowi has made tough drug policies a hallmark of his administration.
Declaring a 'drug emergency', he has called for the death penalty for drug dealers and rejected clemency pleas for convicted traffickers. Despite protests from human rights campaigners and the international community, his administration executed 14 convicts ' including foreigners of multiple nationalities ' in two groups in January and May this year.
There are a further 60 drug convicts on death row, according to the National Narcotics Agency (BNN).
Despite the harsh penalties imposed on drug dealers, drug abuse continues to increase in Indonesia. The current rate of drug abuse has reached 4 million people, or 2.18 percent of the total population, up from 3.3 million in 2008. Drug abuse has also caused Rp 63 trillion (US$4.72 billion) in economic losses.
The government has set a target of reducing the number of drug abusers to 3.7 million by 2020.
Jokowi ordered all relevant parties and law enforcers to join hands with the BNN in fighting drug abuse and drug trafficking in the country, including by improving international intelligence cooperation.
'We must enforce the law effectively and fight drug abuse and drug trafficking seriously,' he said.
'We must arrest and impose harsh penalties on drug dealers and the 'big fish'.'
The President also called for tough penalties for law enforcement officers and public officials who provided protection for drug dealers, as well as increased surveillance at penitentiaries.
'This has to end; no more prisons must be used as drug distribution centers,' he said.
The BNN has on several occasions moved against drug rings run from correctional facilities, including on the Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, where the two recent rounds of executions took place.
During raids in April and February, authorities found three convicts involved in the drug business on Nusakambangan.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly, whose office oversees correctional facilities, has acknowledged the involvement of prison officials in drug trafficking.
On Friday, Jokowi also demanded better monitoring at seaports and patrols in waters known to be used by traffickers.
He also called for the rehabilitation of 100,000 addicts this year.
BNN chief Anang Iskandar, meanwhile, said that failures to effectively rehabilitate drug users and impose money laundering charges on drugs traffickers were the primary reasons behind drug businesses being run from prisons.
'Drug users should be put inside rehabilitation centers, instead of behind bars,' he said. 'And, ideally, all drug dealers' assets should be confiscated, but money laundering charges are for now rarely used against them.'
As of June, the BNN has investigated four money laundering cases related to drug abuse this year.
Anang also revealed a plan to transform four prisons into special penitentiaries for drug offenders in the near future.
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