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Karya Ilmiah: “Revisting Indonesia’s New Criminal Code: A Missed Oppurtunity to End Legal Uncertainly in Drug Policy” Oleh: Adery Ardhan Saputro, S.H. LL.M.

On 6 December 2022, Indonesia’s House of Representatives finally approved a new
Criminal Code, in discussion since the 1970s. The Code replaced Indonesia’s outdated
penal code, which was a remnant of Dutch colonial rule. However the new law has
faced a groundswell of criticism nationally and internationally, mostly focused on the
criminalisation of extramarital sex and cohabitation outside marriage, alongside the
suppression of civil liberties including the freedom of speech. Regrettably, there has
been less public discourse on other changes brought by this new criminal code,
including in relation to drug offences, which are likely to have wide-ranging negative
impacts on people.

The intriguing question is whether Indonesia’s new Criminal Code can solve the
government’s concerns with the supply of drugs. Before the introduction of the Code,
the country’s drug policy was essentially contained in the Narcotics Act No. 35 (2009),
which stipulates the use and supply of drugs as offences. The enforcement of the
Narcotics Act has resulted in over 60% of people held in Indonesia’s prisons being
deprived of liberty for drug-related offences. Moreover, according to government
data, people criminalised in relation to possession offences made up roughly 29% of
the total number of drug cases in 2020. The country’s drug policy has led to
overcrowding whereby the national prison system has exceeded its maximum
occupancy twice over (i.e. 101.25 % over capacity). There is potential for Indonesia’s
new Criminal Code to solve this issue by revisiting the approach in criminalisation of
drug-related activities under the Narcotics Act.

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