Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Indonesia’s president, has instructed police to shoot suspected drug dealers to combat what he considers a narcotics emergency facing the country.
His remarks have drawn comparison to that of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who launched a controversial anti-drug crackdown about a year ago that saw many alleged drug dealers killed in an operation widely condemned by the international community.
“Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest. Shoot them because we indeed are in a narcotics emergency position now,” Widodo said in a speech at an event held by one of Indonesia’s political parties on Friday.
Indonesia has tough laws against drugs. Widodo has previously been criticised for ordering executions against convicted drug traffickers who were given a death penalty by the court.
Widodo’s shooting order came a week after Indonesian police shot dead a Taiwanese man in a town near the capital Jakarta.
The man, who was part of a group trying to smuggle one tonne of crystal methamphetamine into the country, was killed for resisting arrest, police have said.
‘Assault on the rule of law’
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Saturday criticised Indonesia’s police chief after he said that shooting suspected drug dealers had proven to be an effective deterrent.
“From experience on the ground, to be honest, when we shoot drug traffickers, they go away,” national police chief General Tito Karnavian was quoted as saying by local news websites.
Karnavian also cited Duterte’s so-called war on drugs in the Philippines as a successful example.
The rights group said Karnavian “should denounce the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’ for what it truly is: a brutal, unlawful assault on the rule of law, human rights, and basic decency”.
Widodo “should send a clear and public message to the police that efforts to address the complex problems of drugs and criminality require the security forces to respect everyone’s basic rights, not demolish them”, it said.
Since Joko took office in 2014, Indonesia has executed 18 people for drug trafficking, defying international calls for mercy.
Rights activists and some governments have called on Indonesia to abolish the death penalty.