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Overcoming drug-related problems in Indonesia

Batam (Indonesia), 25 May 2014
- The Government of Indonesia continues its strong commitment in developing an integrated and balanced strategy between law enforcement and public health approach regarding drug-related issues in the country. One of the huge mile-stones aiming to harmonize governmental responses after the new narcotics act number 35 passed in 2009, occurred in March 2014; seven governmental institutions (Supreme Court, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, Attorney General Office, Indonesia National Police and National Narcotics Board) reached consensus to sign the joint regulation on Handling Drug Addicts and Victims of Drug Abuse into Rehabilitation Centers.

"This is a fine example of a solid multi-sector response to overcome drug-related problems among drug users in Indonesia, including the threat of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users", said Troels Vester, UNODC Country Manager. It is estimated that only 1 out of 500 dependant drug users received treatment in Indonesia. The HIV prevalence remains high in the country -  36, 4% - and it is still the highest in the region, while HIV prevention coverage remains low. Globally, only 2 countries out of 32 provide the recommended minimum of at least 200 sterile syringes per year for each person injecting drugs. "This is very concerning. As we all know, the use of contaminated injecting equipment is the major route of HIV transmission among injecting drug users and the only way to prevent it is by ensuring injecting drug users use sterile syringes for every injection", he continued.

In order to improve professionalism within narcotics police personnel, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in collaboration with Riau Islands Provincial Police, conducted a three day workshop on "HIV/AIDS and Drug Dependency Countermeasures" on 19-21 May 2014.  As many as 50 narcotics police representatives from provincial offices, districts and sub districts actively participated in the workshop. Hence, it aimed to increase narcotics police personnel's knowledge and understanding of drug dependency and treatment, as well as the recent developments relating to National Policy, HIV/AIDS and Narcotics regulation.

The government has declared 2014 as a year of salvation for drug users, and in the upcoming years, no drug user is expected to end up in prison. However, some processes still need to be undertaken if the Government of Indonesia wishes to meet its objective. The joint regulation thus requires all co-signing institutions to develop internal procedures to implement and enforce such regulation. For instance, Indonesia National Police is now in the process of drafting the Chief of Indonesia National Police Regulation regarding procedures of rehabilitation for drug addicts and victims of drug addicts in the investigation process, which will be used as a guideline for police investigators both at the central and regional levels in rehabilitating drug users and victims of drug abusers.

The preparedness of law enforcement agencies in being health-conscious while handling drug users should be the impetus for key-related governmental institutions engaged in preparing infrastructure and facilities that meet the standards, without which the efforts to save the nations from the danger and harm of illicit drugs will not be fruitful.

"Having had an enlightenment throughout this workshop, following the presentations and discussions on the implementation of the operational tasks to prevent HIV/AIDS and drug dependency, I wish for a strong commitment in maintaining a common perspective in handling and rehabilitating drug addicts and victims of drug abusers in accordance to the Joint regulation mandate, and coordinated with key-related institutions", said Riau Islands Chief of Police while giving his closing remarks.

UNODC will continue its support to the government of Indonesia in this important area and conduct similar workshops in other provinces.