INDONESIAN President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has issued a shoot-to-kill order against foreign drug dealers and traffickers, as he called for tougher action in Indonesia’s war on drugs.
As reported by The Straits Times, Jokowi announced the order at an event in Jakarta, at which he also warned that the drug situation has put the country in a state of national emergency.
“The police and TNI (military) have been firm, especially when dealing with foreign drug traffickers entering the country,” Jokowi said. “If they resist arrest, just gun them down, show no mercy.”
Indonesia has one of the world’s toughest drugs laws, and remains one of 33 countries that still use capital punishment for drug-related offences.
Since the country lifted a four-year moratorium on the death penalty in 2013, 18 people – all drug traffickers – have been sent to the firing squad.
The statement followed one of the largest ever seizures of crystal methamphetamine last week, weighing in at one tonne and arriving from Taiwan.
According to The Jakarta Post, the police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly attempted to distribute the drugs in Greater Jakarta and shot dead one for resisting arrest.
Following the incident, Indonesian National Police chief Tito Karnavian explained his heavy handed approach.
“On this occasion, we want to emphasize that the police would act firmly and toughly, especially against the foreign [drug dealers],” he said. “I even told [officers] to act by ‘custom’, which means if they resist [arrest], shoot. In this case, one Taiwanese was shot dead.”
Jokowi’s strong words and apparent no-nonsense approach have drawn comparisons with his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, who is infamous for his brutal crackdown on narcotics that has left thousands dead.
In reference to Duterte’s shoot-to-kill approach, Tito expressed further support for his methods.
“From the practice in the field, we see that when we shoot at drug dealers they go away, so if such a policy were implemented in Indonesia, we believe that the number of drug traffickers and users in our beloved country would drop drastically.”
His remarks, however, drew strong condemnation from human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, Phelim Kine.
He called for Tito to “denounce the Philippines’ war on drugs for what it truly is – a brutal, unlawful assault on the rule of law, human rights, and basic decency that has targeted some of the country’s poorest, most marginalised citizens”.
He also urged Jokowi to not neglect people’s basic human rights in the pursuit of a solution to the complex problems of drugs and criminality.