Narcotic Agency Head Budi Waseso says death penalty critics may be part of drug syndicates

Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Chief Budi Waseso.
Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Chief Budi Waseso.

Today is World Day Against the Death Penalty, and human rights activists in Indonesia used the occasion to highlight an alarming increase in death penalty prosecutions over the last year and to renew call for a moratorium on the practice until the procedures regulating it can be thoroughly reviewed to prevent human rights violations.

But the head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), Commissioner-General Budi Waseso, shot back at critics of the death penalty, saying that it was an essential deterrent in the country’s war on drugs and implying that those who oppose capital punishment might be criminals themselves.

“Why do these ‘sontoloyo‘ (lit. duck herders; colloquially, people who hold up progress with unimportant issues) keep defending (drug dealers) continuously? What if they are part of the drug mafia syndicate?” Budi said as a press conference today as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

He specifically took aim at Amnesty International, the activist NGO that defends human rights around the world and has asked the Indonesian government numerous times to place a moratorium on the death penalty in light of the numerous human rights violations related to its use in Indonesia in the past.

“What has Amnesty International ever done for this nation? Did they ever build up Indonesia? Have they ever struggled positively for the nation? Never, right?” Budi said.

Not only did the BNN chief defend the death penalty as a necessary, he suggested the government increase it’s deterrent value by having them be dicincang (chopped up) instead of shot.

“If we just chopped them up, there would be no need for them to be shot. Showing that would be a real deterrent,” said Budi (who, by the way, was indeed the same guy who said he wanted to build a prison exclusively for drug dealers guarded by angry crocodiles).

Budi said that sentencing drug dealers to death could save 212,000 people’s lives in Indonesia (not sure where he pulled that number from) and, pulling a card from Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s playbook, said human rights activists should focus on protecting the rights of victims rather than the rights of drug dealers.  

Besides Amnesty, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), also recently asked that Indonesia declare a moratorium on the death penalty while the process in which criminals can be convicted and appeal the sentence be reviewed for violations of human rights, noting that one of the last people executed by the government, Humphrey Jefferson “Jeff” Ejike, had been denied the ability to exercise all of his appeal options before he was killed.


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