79 drug suspects killed by Indonesian officers this year

Convicted drug dealers at a National Narcotics Agency ceremony to destroy seized drugs in Jakarta yesterday. Of the 79 suspects killed, 10 were foreigners, said the agency.
Convicted drug dealers at a National Narcotics Agency ceremony to destroy seized drugs in Jakarta yesterday. Of the 79 suspects killed, 10 were foreigners, said the agency.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JAKARTA • Law enforcement officials shot and killed 79 suspected drug dealers this year, said Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency (BNN), as the country cracks down on its drug problem.

"We shot 79 even though we arrested 58,000. We have enough ammunition for 58,000, it's just that they still have some good luck," BNN chief Budi Waseso told reporters on Wednesday.

"We actually hoped that they would resist, so we could shoot them," he added jokingly. "But most of them immediately surrendered when we conducted the raids."

Of the 79 shot and killed, 69 were Indonesians and 10 were foreigners, according to BNN spokesman Sulistiandriyatmoko. Fifty-five were shot by the police, while 24 were shot by BNN officers.

This is a drastic increase from the 14 drug suspects who were killed last year, according to Human Rights Watch data. The rise comes amid increasingly tough rhetoric from national leaders about how to tackle Indonesia's drug problem.

General Budi had previously praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal drug war.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's national police chief Tito Karnavian said in July that his officers "would act firmly and tough, especially against foreign (drug dealers)". He had said: "I even told (officers) to act by custom, which means if they resist (arrest), shoot."

President Joko Widodo echoed General Tito's sentiment a day later, instructing law enforcement officers to be firm with drug dealers who resist arrest. "Gun them down. Give no mercy," he said.

Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Bramantyo Basuki condemned Mr Joko's and Gen Tito's statements, saying they could be interpreted as an order to shoot people on sight.

"The effects of their statements are very real," Mr Basuki said. "They made the statements in July, and in August, 16 drug suspects were killed, which is the highest number of casualties in a single month, according to our data."

He added that Amnesty International had recorded 97 killings this year, of which 13 people were from Nigeria, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, China and South Africa.

He said the policy of shooting drug dealers was counterproductive in light of the fact that Indonesia's Parliament was deliberating over making the death penalty an alternative sentence that could be commuted to life imprisonment if the convict showed good behaviour.

Indonesia executed 14 drug dealers in 2015 and four last year, while 134 remain on death row. If none is put to death by the year end, this year will be the first year of Mr Joko's administration without a single execution.

Gen Budi has acknowledged the need for demand-side policies, saying that BNN's priority next year would lean more towards demand suppression.

"We will conduct more outreach and education programmes for mothers, because the role of the family is very important," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2017, with the headline '79 drug suspects killed by Indonesian officers this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe