By Konradus Epa
Church leaders and activists have welcomed what they think is a possible softening in the Indonesian government's hard-line drug policy after the anti-narcotics agency said it would push for drug users to be rehabilitated, rather than imprisoned. The move was announced on June 26 when the Indonesia National Narcotics Agency (BNN) and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) agreed on June 26 — the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking — to boost cooperation in rehabilitation efforts for drug addicts. UNODC country manager, Collie F. Brown, said both institutions agreed that the best way to stop the spreading of drugs is through rehabilitation of drug addicts, rather than sending them to prison. Indonesia imposes harsh punishments for drug related crimes. Under President Joko Widodo the country has executed 18 prisoners for drug trafficking, while police have shot dead 99 peopleduring its anti-drug war. Users, meanwhile, are systematically jailed. Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the human rights desk of the Indonesian bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People welcomed the agreement, saying the church has long advocated for rehabilitation rather than jail time.