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Follow-up on promoting alternatives to incarceration for people who use drugs

Jakarta (Indonesia), 10 March 2016
- Since initiating criminal justice reforms, Indonesia has sought to build consensus among law enforcement and judiciary agencies on alternatives to incarceration. After deliberation in March 2014 an inter-agency/ministerial regulation was signed by the Supreme Court, comprising the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, Attorney General's Office, Indonesian National Police, and the National Narcotics Agency (BNN). The regulation served as a legislative framework to provide rehabilitation to drug users.

In light of the challenges faced by the Government of Indonesia in implementing the framework, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) through its Office in Indonesia (POI) launched an initiative to provide support for improving Indonesia's criminal justice reform agenda. The two-year project named "Promoting Alternatives to Imprisonment for Drug Users: Including Rehabilitation and Probation". A steering committee was formed comprising representatives from key agencies, with the BNN as the chair and the lead implementing partner.

The steering committee plays a significant role in ensuring that the project is aligned with the government's strategy. Following-up on the first steering committee meeting held in April 2015, UNODC organised a second meeting on 10 March 2016 to report on 2015 performances and solicit input for the 2016 work plan

In the course of one year, the project has promoted the UN common position on voluntary community-based treatment and care services for people who use drugs. This was done through capacity building workshops on legal aid, attended by legal aid organizations from 20 cities across Indonesia. Subsequent to these workshops paralegal training for community representatives was conducted. In addition, the project also engaged in raising awareness through educational messages in daily newspapers, seminars with students and, by organizing a series of focus group discussions with law enforcement agencies.

Lessons learned from the various activities organised by UNODC is the need for a common perspective among and within law enforcement agencies in implementing the joint ministerial regulation. To achieve this, developing clear guidance and working mechanisms for police investigators, along with legal and technical guidance related to implementation should be in extended, in line with international health and human rights standards. The steering committee acknowledged the need for policies to harmonise law enforcement efforts, the judicial system as well as health and welfare systems to streamline health services for people who use drugs. UNODC continues to advocate for policies and guidelines on drug treatment and rehabilitation to adhere to internationally recognised standards, in line for instance with the 2012 Joint Statement on Compulsory Drug Detention and Rehabilitation Centres and the backing of 11 other UN agencies.

In concluding the meeting, the committee endorsed the 2016 work plan and remains optimistic that an increase in awareness and coordination will take place among law enforcement, health and social welfare in providing the necessary health services to people who use drugs. The UNODC Programme Office in Indonesia advocates for the need for voluntary community-based treatment and care services for people who use drugs to be one of the top priorities for the Government of Indonesia.