By Yohan Misero (Indonesia), International Working Group Member, Youth RISE

Indonesia is a tough jurisdiction for achieving drug policy reform. Massive corruption, lack of evidence in policy making, and a struggling democracy are all prevailing hurdles that won’t go away in the near future.

Every year at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Indonesia’s government pats itself on the back over-proudly about diverting people from the criminal justice process. For those who work in the field, we know for sure that such “success” aren’t manifested in practice – and if there’s any, it should be attributed as well to the work of civil society actors and it seldom has nationwide implementation.

Indonesia’s approach towards drug policy, like many countries, is still steered by a prohibitionist manner: simple drug possession could imprison someone 4-12 years, selling/buying drugs more than 5 grams is an act punishable with the death penalty, and forced inpatient rehab is viewed as “humane” punishment.

As of October 2020, Indonesia’s prison capacity is around 135,000 yet it is filled with almost 240,000 people. Stopping to arrest people who use drugs will directly help the situation since the number of people who are charged with the drug law is almost 136,000 and most of them are people who use drugs.