Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jun 2016
Source: Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Copyright: The Jakarta Post


President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has frequently expressed his intense 
anger with drug dealers, even to the extent of executing some of 
them. When speaking at the International Day Against Drugs on Sunday 
he proposed a new approach that could rival the actions of his 
Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte.

But just as capital punishment has not defeated the scourge of drug 
abuse in the country so Jokowi should never try to go that far, let 
alone consider breaking the rules.

"Chase them, beat them, hit them. If the law permits, shoot them." 
Luckily the law does not permit such measures, he added. Nevertheless 
that's the President's punch line, which might represent the wish of 
the majority of Indonesian people, particularly parents who have 
sacrificed all they have to save their children from addiction.

Our neighbor the Philippines has just elected Duterte president, 
partly because of his ruthless approach to crime, including drug 
abuse. Dubbed "the Punisher", Duterte does not take human rights 
principles into consideration when fighting drug dealers.

Indonesia and the Philippines may have much in common when it comes 
to combating drugs, but Jokowi does not have to emulate Duterte. 
Neither does Jokowi have to replicate the extrajudicial killings 
conducted under the guise of security operations known as Petrus 
(mysterious shootings), which the late president Soeharto endorsed as 
a "shock therapy" to fight criminals in the 1980s.

Opting for the extreme way of eradicating drug-related crimes will 
not only mark a setback, but also undermine Indonesia's credibility 
as a champion of democracy and human rights. Worse, the President's 
statement, if manifested in policy, would justify state violence and 
undermine the rule of law as the country's foundation.

This country has not settled numerous cases of states-ponsored 
violence in the past and continues to face allegations of 
perpetrating violence for the sake of national security, as in the 
case of a terrorist suspect who died in police custody last month.

The use of violence against suspected drug dealers and traffickers - 
though popular - will sooner or later transform Indonesia into a 
terror state, in which the state can justify any means to achieve its 
goals. If this approach is taken against drug criminals today, nobody 
can be sure it won't target political enemies or ordinary people some 
day, as happened during the days of Petrus.

Endorsing executions is already a mistake, or more precisely a 
failure to fulfill Jokowi's promises. Most voters chose him because 
of, among other factors, his clean human rights record and pledge to 
promote human rights.

The facts show that in the case of Indonesia the death penalty lacks 
a deterrent effect. After two rounds of executions in the first two 
years of the Jokowi administration, the President has admitted the 
country remains in a state of emergency caused by drugs.

There is no guarantee that extreme measures will help the government 
curb drug crimes. A new strategy is indeed pressing in the war on 
drugs; the involvement of all stakeholders in coming up with this 
strategy is essential.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom