Shoot drug suspects: Widodo 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has told his police to shoot suspected drug dealers to battle an “emergency” in the archipelago.

He spoke after police seized a tonne of crystal methamphetamine worth around US$112 million in Serang, Banten. Known on Java as shabu-shabu, the drug was reportedly smuggled from China and constitutes the Indonesia’s largest seizure to date.

Police arrested four Taiwanese men who allegedly attempted to bring the drugs to Jakarta. One of them was shot dead while apparently resisting arrest.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched a bloody anti-drug crackdown when he took office last year, leading to the murder of thousands of alleged addicts and dealers, which was widely condemned by the international community.

“Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest. Shoot them because we indeed are in a narcotics emergency position now,” Widodo said.

Indonesia already has tough laws against drugs with Widodo criticised for ordering executions against convicted drug traffickers who were given a death penalty by the courts.

Widodo’s shooting order came a week after police shot dead a Taiwanese man near the capital, Jakarta.

“Now, the police and the [military] are really firm, particularly against international drug dealers who enter Indonesia. Just shoot them if they even show a little resistance,” the president added.

Police said the man was trying to smuggle a tonne of crystal methamphetamine into the country and was killed for resisting arrest.

“From experience on the ground, to be honest, when we shoot drug traffickers, they go away,” national police chief General Tito Karnavian said, according to the media.

Karnavian said Duterte’s brutal war on drugs proved how successful the approach could be.

Since Widodo took office in 2014, Indonesia has executed 18 people for drug trafficking, defying international calls for clemency.

Amnesty International condemned the announcements, saying the policy amounted to enforcing martial law.

Usman Hamid, Amnesty’s country director, said the statements by Widodo and Karnavian might result in extrajudicial killings or summary executions.

“Duterte’s war on drugs is the wrong kind of approach for a democratic country. Indonesia must look for a better approach or best practices from other countries,” Usman told the media.

Human Rights Watch also said Karnavian “should 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”.

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”, it said.

Indonesia’s police have been given an all clear to shoot suspects. Picture credit: Wikimedia