An anti-narcotics network has called on the Indonesian government to stop its aggressive war against narcotics and instead pay more attention to drug-rehabilitation approaches. 

Rudhy Wedhasmara, founder of East Java Action (EJA), an NGO concerned with narcotics and oplosan (bootleg alcohol) addicts, said on Monday that stopping the aggressive war against narcotics did not necessarily mean “legalizing” the distribution of the addictive substances. 

What the government needed to do, according to Rudhy, was to change its strategy in handling narcotics distribution in Indonesia. “After the issuance of the 2009 Narcotics Law, the amount of budgetary allocation for the National Narcotics Agency [BNN] increased to Rp 1.07 trillion [US$85.9 million] in 2013 from Rp 723 billion in 2011. 

The increased budget was inadequate to stop the spread of drug addiction,” said Rudhy. According to official BNN data, the number of suspects in cases of narcotics abuse in Indonesia increased to 35,436 in 2013 from 32,763 in 2011.

In 2008, the agency’s budgetary allocation amounted to Rp 264 billion, up from Rp 152 billion in 2004. However, research jointly commissioned by the BNN and the University of Indonesia revealed that the number of narcotics users in Indonesia increased to 4.2 million in 2011 from 3.4 million in 2008, despite the increased funds.

 “This shows that increased budgetary allocations, threats of heavy punishment against drug users, a higher number of law enforcers and increases in anti-narcotics institutions are not yet effective in curbing both supply and demand in relation to narcotics,” said Rudhy.

He went on to say that the government’s repressive policy against narcotics had instead provided more room for law enforcers to use drug-abuse cases to pursue higher careers and positions and had even led to extortion practices against narcotics victims.

Rudhy said the EJA urged both the central government and local administrations to change their “War against Narcotics” paradigm and reallocate funds for the repressive policy and anti-drug propaganda to develop drug-rehabilitation infrastructure and improve human resources in therapy services for drug addicts.

 “The government should also be more serious in handling the distribution of oplosan that has claimed more lives,” said Rudhy. (ebf)(+++)



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