Jakarta’s Drug Law no. 35/2009 has been Passed but Not Implemented
Most of the laws on drugs in Indonesia were put in place back in 1997. These laws indicate that those in possession of illegal drugs could receive 3 years to life in prison depending on the type of drug, and how much the culprit was holding. For trafficking, one could see imprisonment of 4 to 15 years, with the possibility of the death penalty.
At a recent United Nations gathering, Russell Brand made his voice heard on the criminalisation of drugs – and their severe penalties – around the world. “… that has done nothing but bring death, suffering, crime, created a negative economy, and deaths all over Mexico, deaths all over Malaysia, unnecessary death penalties.” And while Brand’s views on drug policies are often considered controversial, it is likely that at least in this case, many Indonesians would be inclined to agree with him. Most of the laws on drugs in Indonesia were put in place back in 1997. These laws indicate that those in possession of illegal drugs could receive 3 years to life in prison depending on the type of drug, and how much the culprit was holding. For trafficking, one could see imprisonment of 4 to 15 years, with the possibility of the death penalty. And those who were suffering from addiction to these drugs at time of arrest, were absolutely not given the opportunity for rehabilitation which is part of the reason why drugs are so rampant within the over-crowded Indonesian jails. With addicts entering the jails still addicted to drugs, the demand for drugs is high – and where there is demand – supply follows suit. That was to change, however, with the implementation of law no. 35/2009, put in place September 2009. This law stated that treatment and rehabilitation could be sentenced in place of, or in addition to imprisonment for those who were suffering from addiction. The bill would, hopefully, get addicts sober in an effort to relieve some of the demand for drugs and their negative implications both in the jails and on the streets when they were released. However, there are many faults with the law, and many people are still strictly imprisoned for possession, when in fact, they should be put into rehabilitation treatment programmes. Part of the problem lies in their lack of a standard process to decipher the difference between drug abusers and drug addicts. As well, there are currently no strict regulations in place for the treatment centres. There have been reports of some treatment centres that force their patients to work for little to no pay, and beat those who do not cooperate. In some cases, no formal counselling is part of the programme, so relapse is almost inevitable. The sentenced might be unable to access drugs for the time being, but when they are free to their own resources, the disease of addiction takes hold once again – since they have not been shown how to properly handle the disease. According to a report by the International Drug Policy Consortium, these issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Brand also told a reporter, on his experiences at the UN meeting, “I spoke to people this morning that have told me there isn’t no real global consensus around drugs,” he said. “For example, in Uruguay cannabis has been made legal, whereas in Singapore you can get the death penalty for using cannabis.” It is a well-known fact that the laws regarding drugs in Southeast Asia are some of the strictest in the world, but drug-related crime, and drug use does not seem to decrease in light of that. Instead of throwing drug addicts in jail, an effort needs to be made to rehabilitate these people. Only then will the demand for drugs decrease, and where there is no demand – the supply will be forced to slow down as well.