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Stop the 'war on drugs', start saving lives

To President Joko Widodo:

As citizens concerned about drug use in Indonesia we call on you to fully commit to an approach that works and saves lives. We call on you to scale back punitive strategies and expand harm reduction programmes. We ask you to invest in the collection of better quality data on the scale and nature of drug use in Indonesia, and to form an ad hoc, independent committee on drug use to review available drug-related data, set priorities, recommend evidence-informed actions, and monitor progress. 

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Indonesia is fighting an expensive war against drugs -- and looks set to lose it, unless the government acts now. Top scientists are already calling for a drug policy based on evidence, not emotion; now we can make that call too loud to ignore.

The war on drugs has failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, overcrowding the country's prisons, and funnelling huge amounts of rupiah into often corrupt law-enforcement agencies. Experts in Indonesia and abroad agree: the most sensible policy is to limit harm through community programmes that have been shown to work. But despite saying he wants his policies based on evidence, President Jokowi's government is heading in the opposite direction, painting a grim image of a "drug emergency" only to be countered with force.

That's where the Avaaz community comes in: If thousands of citizens amplify the experts' call for a rethink, we can help swing friendly ministers in Jokowi's cabinet, and start dealing with drugs in a way that works. Sign now!

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