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Seminar: Drug Policy in Indonesia: Law amendments but punitive approach remains (Sudirman Nasir, Universitas Hasanuddin, Indonesia)

  • C21, Pathfoot Building Scotland, FK9 4LA United Kingdom (map)
Indonesia and the Philippines’ “war on drugs” approach is misleading people into thinking that tough laws can deal with all drug-related problems once and forever
— Sudirman Nasir
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Talk Summary

This seminar while highlight the “war on drugs” approach being taken around the world, but especially in Indonesia, and the subsequent health and societal impacts.

The "war on drugs" approach allows people to simplify the complex nature of drug dealing and drug use. This misleads people into thinking that tough laws alone are a magic bullet that can deal with all drug-related problems once and forever. This simplistic view is of course a myth built on unrealistic optimism. The reality is that the “war on drugs” exacerbates drug problems in many countries, as numerous studies have shown, and neither reduces the availability nor the consumption of drugs. 

Punitive approaches to drug policy have also created far worse unintended consequences – particularly in regards to the spread of viruses like HIV as injectable drugs and the use of contaminated injecting equipment are among the most common ways such viruses are transmitted.

You can read more on this topic in Sudi's article for the Public Policy Forum (Australian National University) 'Behind Jokowi and Duterte’s “war on drugs”: Populism and machismo are winning a battle against evidence-based solutions'.

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Sudi's Bio

Dr Nasir is senior lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Hasanuddin in Makassar. His area of interests are medical anthropology, youth health, risk-taking behaviours and infectious diseases, particularly HIV and STIs. He has conducted research on various topics related to HIV and STIs including the social context of HIV-related risk-taking behaviours among young people in low income neighbourhoods in Makassar. He has been involved in drug use and HIV prevention programs in Indonesia since the mid-1990s.


Besides publishing articles in international academic journals, Dr Nasir frequently writes essays for Indonesian and international media. He also serves as a vice president of the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI), whose mission is to empower mid-career scientists for building a strong science community in Indonesia.


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