By Dave McRae
Under President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), Indonesia’s war on drugs has taken on a deadly edge. Initially, Jokowi focused on judicial executions, declaring in December 2014 that his government would empty death row of its 64 prisoners sentenced on drugs charges in order to tackle a ‘drugs emergency’. Action followed quickly — his government executed 14 narcotics prisoners within six months.
Only four further prisoners have faced the firing squad for drugs crimes since, with no executions now for 15 months. But as judicial executions have receded, fatal shootings of narcotics suspects have surged. Indonesian human rights monitor Kontras estimates police and the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) fatally shot 106 drugs suspects between September 2016 and September 2017, with the vast majority of these shootings taking place in 2017. The shootings have continued since the release of their data, with at least a further six drugs suspects shot dead during October.
As with the judicial executions, this uptick in killings has coincided with hardline rhetoric from Jokowi and his senior law enforcement officials. Jokowi himself was one of the first to speak approvingly of shootings, calling on police on World Anti-Narcotics Day in 2016 to shoot narcotics criminals if the law allowed it (before noting it was fortunate the law did not). National police chief Tito Karnavian was one of those to echo the president’s call. In January, he held a press conference at the police mortuary, telling drugs distributors they would end up there if they resisted arrest.
Thumbnail: CC Jeroen Mirck