Indonesian president encourages extra-judicial killings (foreigners preferred)

What is it with Indonesians and the law? It seems to me the country is beset with enthusiasm for purely symbolic laws, coupled with an utter disdain for the actual law. The photo above, taken in the Maduran town of Sumenep by my friend and colleague Michael Buehler, provides a delightful, home-made example of the first. Here’s a closer look: “Forbidden to have a traffic accident here!” it declares, above a gaping hole in the road. And then it gives…

Indonesia gets noticed (not in a good way)

Several times over the last months, I’ve been asked to comment on the impending execution of convicted drug dealers. I’ve always refused, largely because I thought I’d just be fuelling hysteria about something that wasn’t actually going to happen. Then, just a few minutes before I was about to speak on a panel called “Death Sentences” at the University of California Irvine, I heard that Indonesian police had indeed pulled the trigger on eight people, one of them mentally ill….

What drugs are they on? Madness in Indonesia’s jails

I spent Nyepi, the Hindu day of silence, in Bali. Things have quietened down a bit here, but earlier in the month prisoners in Kerobokan, the main jail, went on the rampage. Officially the riot was about overcrowding, though the trigger seems to have been some spat about drug dealing. It is old news that drugs are cheaper inside Indonesia’s jails than outside. But it is the link between drugs and overcrowding in jails that we need to be thinking…