Khabar Southeast Asia

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Indonesia widens war on drugs

By Alisha Nurhayati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Surabaya

April 03, 2014

Customs officers guard ten Iranians under arrest at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on drug smuggling charges in October 2009. [Andri/AFP]

Customs officers guard ten Iranians under arrest at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on drug smuggling charges in October 2009. [Andri/AFP]

Indonesian officials are vowing to do more to combat narcotics smuggling and consumption, amid an increase in both drug cases and drug abuse nationwide.

"It seems they [smugglers] are now aiming efforts at various small airports and ports. But we will continue to tighten our security," Iwan Ibrahim, director of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) for East Java, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

He spoke soon after the February 26th arrest of two Iranian citizens, Mostava Moradaviland, 32, and Seiyed Hasheim Mosavipour, 35, who had circulated in his jurisdiction.

They were arrested in Sukabumi, West Java, as they allegedly tried to collect a stash of at least 60 kilos of methamphetamine with an estimated street value between Rp. 120 billion ($10.6m) and Rp. 140 billion ($12.3m).

On March 10th, a Batam court sentenced Malaysians Mohammad Sollehudin Anuar and Azmee Johari, and Singaporean Ong Beng Song, to death for smuggling nearly 170,000 pills of ecstasy from Malaysia into Indonesia via Batam last June, according to regional news reports.

Marijuana is also increasingly prevalent. In late February, police arrested three suspects and seized a half tonne of pot found on Java-bound trucks from Aceh. Authorities said the alleged smugglers were trying to sell the marijuana to Jakarta area college students.

A growing problem

In March, the BNN, National Police, ministries of Law and Human Rights, Health, and Social Affairs, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General's Office inked a memorandum of understanding for the government to place drug users into rehab programmes instead of incarcerating them, local media reported.

"The problem is not merely about the lack of [correctional] facilities. Building more prisons will not solve the problem; maximising rehabilitation efforts however, as stipulated in the Narcotics Law, will," Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin said according to the Jakarta Post.

The move comes as Indonesia faces a surge in drug cases. According to National Police statistics, the number of drug cases grew to 32,470 last year, up 22.5% from 2012, the Post said.

In 2012, though the number of users stood at 4.5 million people, or 2% of the population, less than 1% of users sought rehabilitation treatment, according to the Jakarta Globe.

Commenting on the epidemic, Mayang Haryanti, a student at Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, said drugs caused many problems among her peers.

"We hope our generation is aware that drugs will only disengage us from our bright future. I applaud every single effort the government has done," she told Khabar. "In addition, more prevention efforts – especially among youth – will certainly improve the situation."

To counter the drug threat, it is important to keep the fabric of familial and communal ties strong, said Muhammad Basri, a Muslim leader in the Mojokerto area.

"Families and local communities are the small entities. I know nowadays people are so much more individual, but by ensuring our family and friends are free from drugs, we are helping our community and helping them," he told Khabar.

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