President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has ordered law enforcers to shoot drug traffickers to deal with what he called a narcotics emergency facing the country.
“No mercy for them [foreign drug traffickers]. We are currently in an emergency in terms of drug abuse,” Jokowi said in Jakarta on Friday (21/07), as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.
The president spoke after police seized a ton of crystal methamphetamine worth Rp 1.5 trillion ($112 million) in Serang, Banten, on July 13. The narcotic, locally known as shabu-shabu, was smuggled from China and constitutes the Indonesia’s largest seizure to date.
Police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly attempted to distribute the drugs in the greater Jakarta area. One of them was shot dead while resisting arrest.
Jokowi said the police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) are working together to act decisively against drug traffickers.
“Now, the police and the TNI are really firm, particularly against international drug dealers who enter Indonesia. Just shoot them if they even show a little resistance,” he added.
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian was quoted by Antara on Thursday as saying that drug smugglers are targeting Indonesia because they deem the country’s law enforcement efforts weak, unlike Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“They [drug traffickers] have noticed that, apart from the potential market, we [law enforcement officers] may be weak to act. Our laws are considered weak; that causes them to become rampant in Indonesia,” Tito said in Jakarta.
He said international drug traffickers have been given a stern warning not to consider Indonesia as one of their main destinations for the illegal drug trade.
“I have ordered the police to crack down and act tough, especially against foreign drug dealers. I have also told [officers] to act in accordance with their standard operational procedure, which also means shooting them if they resist arrest,” Tito said.
Indonesia is not the only Southeast Asian country under threat from the widespread distribution of illicit drugs. The Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte declared war on drug pushers last year.
Warning From Rights Activists
Extrajudicial killings in the Philippines have drawn condemnation from the international community and human rights groups.
Usman Hamid, country director for the United Kingdom-based rights group Amnesty International in Indonesia, said the statements by Jokowi and Tito may result in law enforcement officials on the ground committing unlawful actions, such as extrajudicial killings or summary executions, which constitute gross human rights violations.
“Duterte’s war on drugs is the wrong kind of approach for a democratic country. Indonesia must look for a better approach or best practices from other countries,” Usman told the Jakarta Globe.
He added that Duterte declared war on drugs after the state imposed martial law with the parliament’s approval. The implementation of Duterte’s shoot-on-sight policy violates the country’s constitutional law and other regulations.
Usman said Jokowi and Tito’s remarks could be regarded as a move to implement martial law in Indonesia. He added that their statements show a lack of understanding of basic norms of human rights and the rule of law.