Punitive Narcotics Laws: Tools for Criminalizing People Who Use Drugs and Overcrowding Prison (not solving any problems!)

By June 25, 2024 Regional

Indonesia’s punitive drug laws mean that people who use drugs are easy targets for police and imprisonment. As a result, prisons are increasingly overcrowded and the human rights of people who use drugs are neglected, not only in the prisons but even before and throughout the process leading to their arrest, court trial and conviction.

Based on the Indonesia Drugs Report 2022 from the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), there are at least 13 prisons that are overcrowded, mostly with people detained or imprisoned for drug cases. 

To respond to this problem, LBH Masyarakat (LBHM) works together with the Narcotics Policy Reform Network (JRKN)—a consortium of 22 Indonesian civil society organisations focused on drug policy reform advocacy—sought to conduct a public campaign to raise awareness in the community regarding the importance of non-punitive strategies, such as decriminalisation of the use and possession of drugs for personal use.

For the Support. Don’t Punish. global day of action on 26 June, LBHM and JRKN will run a public campaign offline and online.

For in-person activities, there will be a series of activities such as mobile interactive talk shows, distribution of knowledge products and merchandise to raise public awareness, and garnering support from the public through asking for signatures to a petition to stop punitive drug laws in Indonesia. They will be held in crowded places such as in the street during Car Free Day (CFD – where roads are sealed off for vehicles and pedestrians are allowed on them). Prior to this public campaign, we will also enliven the digital space by disseminating content about non-punitive measures for people who use drugs on social media, including inviting the public to get involved in the X (formerly known as “Twitter”) space ahead of June 26, 2024.

As in previous years, we hope that this public campaign can provide legal awareness and empowerment to the community and become a discussion space for counter-narratives about drugs, facilitated by civil society organisations in light of the anti-drugs campaigns that will be organised by the government.

We also hope that this public campaign can get a positive response from various parties, including media/journalists and policy-makers, to pay more attention to the drug policy situation which has a myriad of problems. If this issue is not resolved, more people who use drugs will be abused and criminalised through punitive laws, prisons will become overcrowded, and they will not be able to enjoy the same human rights as other citizens. We must act immediately!

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