Indonesian Anti-Drug Czar Plans to Imitate Brutal Philippine Shoot-to-Kill Policy

Siobhán O'Grady
Indonesia's anti-narcotics chief said he plans to imitate the Philippines' aggressive anti-drug policies.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte relishes in his nickname, “The Punisher,” because he earned it for implementing his tough-on-drug-crime policies while he served as mayor of the southern island city of Davao.

Now that he’s the head of state, he’s made sure he’ll hold onto the nickname permanently, launching a police shoot-to-kill mission for anyone even suspected of drug peddling. The brutal war on drugs has earned him criticism from the United Nations, U.S. President Barack Obama, and a plethora of human rights organizations who claim it breaches basic human rights.

But one place it’s earned him fans? Indonesia, where the government has also fielded pushback from the U.N. and other world powers for executing foreigners found guilty of selling drugs. Now Budi Waseso, the top anti-narcotics chief in the country, says he wants to imitate Duterte’s policy to rid Indonesia of drug dealers whose lives he has called “meaningless.”

Waseso said at a Wednesday press conference in Jakarta that he believes Indonesia will launch a policy equally as aggressive as the one now in place in the Philippines. Later, however, a spokesman for the national narcotics agency insisted that Indonesian “punishments have to be in accordance with our law and with national and international standards.”

Duterte is slated to visit the Indonesian capital later this week to meet with President Joko Widodo. At the top of the agenda? How to buckle down on drug crime. And Duterte has made clear he thinks there’s only one way to do so: Kill the people selling drugs.

Photos that have emerged from city streets in the Philippines in recent months offer a glimpse into his brutal tactics. In some, women lie sobbing over the bodies of men shot dead by police, insisting their husbands or boyfriends were not pushing drugs. In others, a bloody body lies in the dark street, and a crowd looks on quietly from behind yellow police tape.  

But Duterte doesn’t buy claims from victims’ families that they aren’t guilty.

“None of my children are into illegal drugs,” he said earlier this year. “But my order is, even if it is a member of my family, ‘kill him.'”

Photo credit: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images