On Wednesday, an Indonesian man was jailed on the island of Borneo, for a sentence of eight months. What was the nature of his crime? Growing cannabis for his cancer-stricken wife, who died shortly after he was arrested.
The government of Indonesia has imposed some of the strictest anti-cannabis laws in the world in response to what they call a drug emergency that is facing the country. Record numbers of dealers and users have been jailed for their involvement with the plant as a result of these laws.
Fidelis Arie Sudewarto was sentenced to eight months by The Sanggau district court in West Kalimantan province and fined 1 billion rupiah, which amounts to $75,000. The prosecution only sought a sentence of five months, according to Sudewarto’s lawyer Marcelina Lin. During the proceedings that led up to his sentencing, the judge acknowledged that Sudewarto is not a drug dealer, even though he was growing the plant illegally and providing it to somebody else. Still, he was handed down a harsher punishment than what was initially sought after anyway.
Lin stated that his client is being held in Sanggau Correctional Institute, and is currently weighing the decision of attempting to appeal to the courts. The father of two’s punishment was condemned by advocates nationwide.
“Fidelis might have committed a crime in planting those marijuana bushes but it was done in an emergency situation. He did that planting for his love of his wife. He should not be jailed for loving his wife,” said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch. The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) is also among those calling for the charges against Sudewarto to be dropped. The ICJR refers to Sudewarto as a “victim in the war on drugs.”
Indonesia President Joko Widodo has faced criticism for his approach to the drug crisis in Indonesia-particularly for his call to execute any and all drug traffickers.