The National Narcotics Agency conducted its first major drug bust this year, arresting four suspected smugglers in Medan, North Sumatra. (Antara Photo/Irsan Mulyadi)

Waseso on Drugs: No More Amnesty or Rehab for Users


SEPTEMBER 04, 2015

Jakarta. He hasn’t even been sworn in as Indonesia’s new anti-narcotics director, yet the ever-controversial Budi Waseso is already plotting sweeping changes to the drug law, including an end to immunity from prosecution for addicts.

Waseso, who was on Friday stripped of his role as the National Police’s chief of detectives, the most powerful seat in the force after that of the police chief, and transferred to the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), said the existing law on drugs gave dealers a loophole to evade prosecution by claiming to be a small-time user.

“Dealers are flourishing because they’re protected by the law if they admit to being a user. And under the law, a user may only be put into rehab [and not prosecuted],” he said.

“We need to change the law. There should be no more [distinction about] users … so that dealers don’t shield themselves behind the definition of a user,” he said.

There have been no recorded cases of any dealers ever exploiting this so-called loophole, which sets clear limits for the amount of drugs found on a person to qualify them as a user rather than a dealer.

That limit, as set out in the 2009 Anti-Narcotics Law, is at most eight ecstasy pills, or less than one gram of crystal methamphetamine, or less than five grams of marijuana.

Waseso also denounced the government-run rehabilitation program as a waste of taxpayer money, saying it was spent on “fixing broken people.”

Of the estimated 18,000 people in rehab nationwide, fewer than 2,000 are in BNN or other government-funded centers.

Waseso also backed President Joko Widodo’s controversial hard-line stance on executing convicted drug offenders, saying it was a necessary measure to reduce drug crimes.

Reams of studies have shown conclusively that this argument is patently false.