Currently, Indonesia is involved in a war on drugs, which have become a serious issue due to the fact that Indonesia is an expanding marketplace for illegal drugs and therefore a destination country for drugs trafficked from overseas. For example, current drug usage results in a total of 40 drug-related deaths of Indonesian citizens every day (BNN-Indonesia, 2018). Due to the se-verity of the situation Indonesia has declared a narcotics emergency (darurat narkoba).
It is under these circumstances that, on May 29th, customs officers in Mota-Ain, Atambua, ar-rested two Timorese citizens (a married couple) after the x-ray security system detected sub-stances hidden in a printer, which were determined to be drugs. The preliminary test on the sub-stances tested positive for 1.861kg of drugs (MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy). Both sus-pects are currently being detained in the district police station of Belu, Indonesia, for further in-vestigation, and the investigative team will test the substances further in a laboratory.
To address the aforementioned drug trafficking case, there is a need to review Indonesia’s 2009 drug law (Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 35 Tahun 2009 Tentang Narkotika). According to this law, the drug (MDMA or Ecstasy) is categorized as a group I narcotic (drugs clas-sified as the most dangerous by Indonesia).
In this case, if both suspects are found guilty they will receive the death penalty, as they are involved in the trafficking of more than 5 grams of a processed group 1 narcotic, and will pay min-imum fines of 1 billion IDRp and a maximum of 10 billion IDRp. While the two Timorese suspects (husband and wife) are still under investigation, their future is certainly under threat, due to the severity of the punitive measures included in the 2009 Indonesian drug legislation.
Fundasaun Mahein’s (FM) observation is that Timor-Leste and Indonesia do not yet have an ex-tradition agreement to deport the two Timorese suspects back to their home country. The lack of such an agreement means that they both currently face the wrath of severe Indonesian drug laws as they await the results of the investigation to determine whether they are in fact guilty of violating Indonesian law.
The question therefore arises as to what the government of Timor-Leste can do to secure the freedom of the two Timorese nationals. Examining the case from a legal perspective, it is difficult to assist the suspects in this case, who may have committed a serious crime involving drug traf-ficking. A potential solution could be secured if there is an extraordinary diplomatic agreement between Dili and Jakarta, especially as both countries (Timor-Leste and Indonesia) have a spe-cial relationship. As has often been stated by the respective leaders of both countries, Indonesia (“the big brother”) and Timor-Leste (“the younger brother”) share a unique relationship because of their historical relations, culture, and closely interlinked societies. This has been re-enforced since Timor-Leste gained independence as a sovereign state. Despite this bitter past, the present reconciliation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia is unique and something that rarely happens in other countries. Timor-Leste seems to have forgiven the past and is looking forward to a future of prosperity for the people of both countries.
However, this special relationship does not signify an end to the criminal process of the current drug trafficking case—which also includes suspects linked to the case who are still free in Timor-Leste.
Finally, FM recommends that the government, through Timorese diplomatic channels in Indone-sia, follow the case of the two Timorese suspects and continuously update the public—and par-ticularly the suspects’ families—so that they can access the investigative process to its conclu-sion.