Even as fears n sparked that Southeast Asia’s largest economy could embark on a Philippine style drug war, the country has expressed a willingness to let authorities shoot down drug dealers, having come under pressure from widespread illegal narcotics distribution.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo or Jokowi recommended police to shoot drug traffickers who resisted arrest and said that his country faced a “narcotics emergency” in a speech last week. “I have told you, just be firm, especially with foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist [arrest]. Gun them down. Give no mercy,” local news outlets quoted the leader as saying.
He had instructed police officers “not to hesitate shooting drug dealers who resist arrest,” Indonesian media reported quoting National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is accused of giving police free rein to kill drug suspects and the comments from Indonesia mirror those of Duterte. While reports of extrajudicial executions are widespread, according to Duterte’s official instructions, Philippine police have the right to shoot if their lives are endangered when drug suspects resist arrest.
But Human Rights Watch slammed Indonesian authorities.
“President Joko Widodo should send a clear and public message to the police that efforts to address the complex problems of drugs and criminality require the security forces to respect everyone’s basic rights, not demolish them,” Phelim Kine, the organization’s Asia deputy director, said in a recent note.
Overall rule of law and democracy has bene jeopardized by Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed thousands, many believe. However, the media has been criticized form misrepresenting Duterte’s policies by Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano.
Analysts predicted an increase in societal divisions if Indonesia embraces Duterte’s controversial policies because the country is already weighed down by religious politics.
“Launching such a crackdown will be deeply controversial in Indonesia,” said Anwita Basu, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Violence of this kind is not well liked in the archipelago where democracy is maturing and people are increasingly becoming more engaged in politics.”
As Indonesia battles widespread use of crystal methamphetamine, it has been gradually ramping up its roundup of suspected drug traffickers. For example, authorities seized one ton of the addictive substance earlier this month. The country employs capital punishment for drug trafficking.
“The market that existed in the Philippines is moving to Indonesia, the impact of President Duterte’s actions is an exodus to Indonesia, including the substance,” Commissioner General Budi Waseso, head of Indonesia’s narcotics agency, recently told Australia’s ABC News. Calls for the police to emulate the Philippines war have been previously given by Waseso.
For now, however, Jokowi isn’t likely to embark on a drug war of the scale seen in the Philippines.
“There are some significant differences in the political careers of Jokowi and his counterpart in the Philippines,” explained Basu. “Unlike Duterte, Jokowi does not have his own political party backing him — this means that he will need full support from the electorate and will have to continue to bargain with various parties who don’t necessarily share the same views on drug crimes as he does.”
(Adapted from CNBC)