Indonesia’s new anti-narcotics chief Heru Winarko called for an expansion of rehabilitation centers across the country on Wednesday, flagging a new approach in contrast to the blood-soaked war on drugs underway in its neighbor, the Philippines.
More users, addicts and even minor dealers would be diverted into centers run by medical professionals and counselors rather than heading straight into an over-crowded prison system, Winarko told Reuters in an interview.
“With the rehabilitation approach, we cut the demand,” he said. “If there is no demand, the supply will not come or reduce.”
Winarko took over as head of Indonesia’s anti-narcotics agency in March, replacing Budi Waseso, a former top police officer who advocated surrounding prisons with moats filled with crocodiles and piranhas to stop drug convicts escaping.
Rather than wildlife, Winarko said he planned to set up rehabilitation facilities near prisons.
“It is better if there is a rehabilitation center located close to a prison,” he said, noting that a former mental hospital near a correctional facility in Bali was being converted into a center for offenders to tackle addiction.
“When we do it like this, it will be amazing. The prison becomes a place for guiding people.”