Indonesians Take a Hard Look at Death Penalty Ahead of Drug Trafficking Executions

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, believed to be the ring leaders of Bali Nine, are among those condemned to death. Photo from the Facebook page of Mercy Campaign

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, believed to be the ring leaders of Bali Nine, are among those condemned to death. Photo from the Facebook page of Mercy Campaign

The Indonesian government has announced that it will carry out the execution of 11 convicts including eight drug traffickers from various countries.

Only one of the eight traffickers is Indonesian. Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, believed to be the ring leaders of the so-called Bali Nine, are among those condemned to death. Citizens of Brazil, France, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines are also due to be executed.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo denied clemency appeals and stated that the country is dealing with a drug emergency problem. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Indonesia is fast becoming a drug trafficking hub for various transnational organized crime cartels.

Although in general Indonesians agree with the country's war on drugs, opinion is divided on the issue of capital punishment.

Mercy Campaign was started in Australia pleading for Chan and Sukumaran to be spared from execution.

But in response to “I Stand for Mercy” campaign, Facebook user Bagus Paramarta wrote that the drug traffickers do not deserve mercy:

Bagus Paramarta
February 4 at 12:42pm

Terpidana Bali Nine, mereka menyelundupkan 8,3 kilogram heroin. Orang-orang disebrang sana begitu peduli dgn nyawa kedua orang ini lalu muncul kampanye I stand for mercy, tapi maaf…saya tidak!
Andai 1 orang menggunakan 1 gram heroin artinya ada 8300 orang korban yang akan menghabiskan heroin2 ini…DITAMBAH…keluarga pecandu akan juga jadi korbannya, ambil saja 1 orang keluarga yang terkena dampaknya maka 16600 akan jadi korbannya.
Ada yang setuju…ada yang tidak, semua bisa didebat. Tapi bagi Anda yang tidak setuju silahkan berdebat dengan mereka yang keluarganya mati karena narkoba, jangan dengan saya.

Bagus Paramarta
February 4 at 12:42pm

The Bali Nine smuggled 8.3 kg of heroin. The [Australian] people there care so much about the lives of these two men, they started the “I Stand for Mercy” campaign, but I'm not sorry.
If only a person used 1 gram of heroin, this means that 8,300 people became victims of heroin drug abuse. Furthermore, the families of drug users also became victims. Some may agree, some don't, everything is debatable. If you disagree, go on and bring the debate to those who lost a family member from drug abuse, don't bring the debate to me.

On Twitter, some supported the president for denying the clemency appeal:

Execution part two for French, Ghanaian, Cordovan, Brazilian, Philippine, Australians and an Indonesian citizens. Make them [the traffickers] scared.”

Indonesia has to be free from drugs, carry on with the death punishment.

But some were opposed to the death penalty:

Death penalty takes away someone's right to repent.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the administration's decision to uphold capital punishment, a practice that has been abolished in many countries. The group noted that Indonesia has worked hard to prevent its citizens abroad from being executed but it has repeatedly ignored pleas from other governments to stop the execution of the drug convicts. HRW added:

International human rights law limits use of the death penalty to only “the most serious crimes,” typically crimes resulting in death or grievous bodily harm. This makes Indonesia’s application of the death penalty for drug-related convictions particularly odious.

Sociology Professor Soe Tjen Marching from Monash University shared her opinion on Facebook as to why capital punishment will not be an effective avenue to tackle drug issues in the country:

Soe Tjen Marching Full
January 28 at 1:13pm

Hukuman mati utk pengedar narkoba biasanya menjerat kroco2nya. Bos-bos besarnya seringkali lolos. Karena kalaupun mereka tertangkap, bisanya bisa pakai duit utk bermacam2 cara utk lolos, termasuk menyewa pengacara kelas kakap yg pasti akan meloloskan mereka dari hukuman mati. Ini tidak hanya terjadi di Indonesia. Bahkan di Inggris & negara2 Eropa pun, sebelum hukuman mati dihapus, hal ini juga terjadi. Ini adalah thesis (lengkap dengan data), bahwa hukuman mati ternyata tidak efektif dalam menanggulangi pengedaran narkoba:

Soe Tjen Marching Full
January 28 at 1:13pm

Execution for drug traffickers usually ends up putting the small ones [behind bars]. The big bosses are oftentimes spared. Even if they're captured, they usually finance their ways to escape, including hiring top attorneys to spare them from getting capital punishment. This doesn't happen only in Indonesia. It happened in England and European countries as well, before they abolished capital punishment, similar problems happened. The following is a thesis (complete with data), on how capital punishment is ineffective in tackling drug trafficking.

The professor also cited a study made by criminologists Yingyos Leechaianan and Dennis Longmire who showed how capital punishment is ineffective in solving drug trafficking problems in several Southeast Asian countries.

Orbit Foundation, an anti-drug advocacy group of former drug users, said that they are against the capital punishment because most of the time those who are convicted are not real drug lords.

Blogger Candra Wiguna pointed out that Indonesia's capital punishment won't be a crime deterrent:

eksekusi terpidana mati di Indonesia dilakukan secara tertutup, tidak ada masyarakat yang menyaksikan secara langsung, pun tidak disiarkan media. Masyarakat hanya tau bahwa pelakunya sudah mati, itu saja. […] Bagaimana caranya memberi peringatan kepada calon kriminal akan sakitnya penderitaan ditembak ketika eksekusi penembakan itu tidak pernah ditunjukkan pada mereka? Hal ini tentu sulit dan tidak efektif. […] Sebelum beranjak ke hukuman mati, seharusnya kita menuntut agar pelaku divonis maksimal dulu, atau setidaknya kita bisa menuntut vonis maksimalnya ditambah..

In Indonesia, executions are not made public, the public and the media can't witness and broadcast them. How can this trigger deterrence? Before we choose death penalty, we should instead ask that the convict receive the maximum sentence, or that their prison term to be extended.

Wiguna added that the right to live and defend life is protected in the Indonesian constitution, and therefore the death penalty is a violation of the Indonesian constitution.

The National Anti Drug Agency (BNN) said that there are 66 more drug prisoners who are facing the death penalty.


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