The head of Indonesia's anti-narcotics agency, Budi Waseso, says he is serious about a surprising plan for a prison guarded by crocodiles.
In an interview with the local outlet Tempo published Sunday, Waseso said drug dealers should be sentenced to live on an island surrounded by crocodiles. Food would be delivered to this prison island, Waseso suggested, and the inmates would have to survive on their own.
After the plan raised some eyebrows in the international media, Waseso gave another interview to Tempo, in which he said he was not kidding about the plan.
"We will place as many crocodiles as we can there," he said. "I will look for crocodiles of the most vicious kind."
The idea may sound outlandish (Tempo suggests it was based on a scene in the 1973 James Bond film "Live and Let Die"), but it is a signal of how far Indonesia is willing to go in its fight against the drug trade. Earlier this year, the country executed eight people, including two Australians, by firing squad after they were convicted of drug-trafficking charges, despite an international outcry.
“We want to send a strong message to drug smugglers that Indonesia is firm and serious in tackling the drug problem, and one of the consequences is execution if the court sentences them to death,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Al Jazeera before the men were executed.
Widodo took office last year and has declared Indonesia's drug problem a "national emergency," refusing to grant clemency to any drug traffickers sentenced to the death penalty.
The government has said that almost 4.5 million people in this country of about 250 million people needed rehabilitation for their drug use. However, some experts have cast doubt on the accuracy of these figures. Amnesty International says that death row convictions in Indonesia are often the result of "endemic" judicial flaws, including forced confessions and denials of access to a lawyer.
Indonesia already keeps drug traffickers sentenced to death on an island —Nusakambangan island, dubbed "execution island" in some news reports, is something like the country's own version of Alcatraz. However, a spokesman for the anti-drugs agency, Slamet Pribadi, confirmed to Agence France-Presse that authorities were mulling a plan to build “a special prison for death row convicts" in drug cases.
The logic behind the crocodiles, Waseso told Tempo, is that they will be impervious to corruption — a considerable problem in the country. "You cannot bribe a crocodile," he said. "You cannot convince them to let the prisoners escape."
Waseso also made clear that he had no sympathy for convicted drug traffickers. They were the "mass murderers" of his country's future, he told Tempo.
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