LBH Masyarakat is strongly urging the Indonesia Government to immediately cease extra-judicial killings in the handling of narcotics cases. Monitoring of online media carried out by LBH Masyarakat has shown there were at least 215 shootings in the enforcement of narcotics law in 2017. Of these 215 cases, 116 people were wounded and 99 were killed.
The seriousness of this matter cannot be overstated, remembering that at present extra-judicial killings are in the spotlight globally. Since the beginning of Philipines President Rodrigo Duterte’s enforcement of his tok hang operation, which has already taken tens of thousands lives, warning signs have appeared which indicate such a phenomenon is prone to copycatting. Although not yet as severely as in the Philipines, it appears Indonesia has been imitating its neighbour’s approach.
The nation’s leaders: President Joko Widodo, National Chief of Police Tito Karnavian, and former Head of the National Anti-Narcotics Agency, Budi Waseso, have all made comments which seem to support this approach. Although they are only at the level of commentary, such statements could be interpreted by law enforcement as an order; or at least a “green light”; to adopt a tougher approach or veer from procedure when carrying out field operations. On a national scale, not a month goes by without a killing connected to the enforcement of narcotics law. In 2017, the lowest number of these killings occurred in November (4), while August saw the most with a total of 13.
Special monitoring is needed of Regional Police and the Provincial National Anti-Narcotics Agency in areas with inordinately large numbers of recorded killings involving narcotics law enforcement. These regions include: North Sumatra (30 killings), Greater Jakarta (22), Lampung (11), East Java (8) and West Kalimantan (7).
There are several reasons why the practice of extra-judicial killings must be stopped:
- Extrajudicial killings do not assist in reducing drug supply in Indonesia. Instead they cause breaks in important chains of information concerning bigger mafia trafficking operations.
- Extrajudicial killings are a key cause of governmental instability, as is the case for Rodrigo Duterte in the Phillipines at present. President Joko Widodo does not need more international criticism regarding drugs and human rights problems. Rather than further encumbering their colleagues at the Foreign Ministry with the task of legitimising the government’s actions in the eyes of international observers, it would be better if this practice were stopped.
- This policy is not effective. This can be seen clearly in the National Anti-Narcotics Agency’s reports from year to year, which show that the rate of drug crime continues to rise. This indicates there are other, more fundamental problems which have not been targeted or resolved by the government.
- This policy can result in the wrong people being shot. Although it seems the policy of on-the-spot shootings is directed at drug dealers, it must be remembered that people who use drugs are still criminalised in Indonesia. At a moment when the number of people who use drugs in Indonesia may be touching 10 million and it is likely these individuals meet with drug dealers to buy drugs, we could see Jakarta become Manila if this policy is not abandoned.
- This approach also has the potential to provoke open conflict between the government and mafia trafficking rings – something which we don’t need to import to Indonesia from Latin America. These sort of extrajudicial approaches have been proven to only lead to and reproduce vicious circles of violence, suffering and vengeance, which descend from generation to generation and are difficult to redress. In this context, oblivious civilians will become the first victims – simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Rising security tensions will also inflate the price of illegal drugs, resulting in the economic exploitation of people who use drugs. These individuals will be pushed to buy and consume drugs which are cheaper but of lower quality. This will impact the health of people who use drugs and contribute to an increase in their mortality rate – one of the very things the government said it intended to combat by embarking on the “War on Drugs”.
- Extra-judicial killings are also a blatant violation of human rights, in particular the rights to life and to honest and fair administration of justice. Whatever a person’s crime, they must be brought to face court and given the chance to defend themselves. The law is enforced by humans and humans are regularly mistaken in their decision-making.
- Extra judicial killings are clearly an act of treason against the constitution, which states explicitly that the rule of law applies in Indonesia. A nation which follows the rule of law should have procedures for the enforcement of the law which are followed correctly by law enforcement agents. This poses the question: What does “the rule of law” really mean in Indonesia.
- These extra-judicial killings are committed in relation to narcotics, which are considered an enemy of the state. If the concept of an “enemy of the state” becomes justification for law enforcement to disregard procedure, our democracy will come under threat. Ideology, political choices and different perspectives could at a later date become excuses for law enforcement officials to carry out these shootings – a truly dangerous possibility in light of a sensitive year to come in 2019.
With regard to the analysis above, LBH Masyarakat wishes to:
- Urge President Joko Widodo to instruct the Indonesian National Police and the National Anti-Narcotics Agency to immediately cease the practice of extra-judicial killings;
- Request the National Commission on Human Rights, the Ombudsman, the National Police Commission and the Third Committee of the People’s Representative Council to summon and investigate the Indonesian government; in particular sections of law enforcement involved in this practice; to explain and justify their actions;
- Urge the Indonesian National Police and the National Anti-Narcotics Agency to create monitoring mechanisms for fatal incidents which are accountable and open to the public in order to avoid abuses of power; and
- Push the Indonesian National Police and the National Anti-Narcotics Agency to invest in technology such as body cameras to trial in police departments and regional/city National Anti-Narcotics Agency offices. Aside from raising accountability, such measures will also raise community trust in law enforcement.
Hopefully Indonesia will finally find its heart and common sense through the formation of humanist, effective and evidence-based drug policy.
Ajeng Larasati – LBH Masyarakat Policy and Research Coordinator
This press release was created for a press conference titled “Stop Extra-judicial Killings in Narcotics Cases Now” held at the offices of LBH Masyarakat on March 5, 2018. Speakers at this conference were Ma’ruf Bajammal (LBH Masyarakat Public Defender), Ajeng Larasati (LBH Masyarakat Policy and Research Coordinator), Bramantya Basuki (Amnesty International Indonesia Researcher), dan Arief Nur Fikri (KontraS Head of Human Rights Defence). This press releases was translated by Iven Manning.