23 October 2007

Bali Bombers - Execution Update

The legal fight continues and could conceivably continue for some time, as Law No. 22 of 2002 on Presidential Pardons clearly stipulates in Article 7(2) that there are no time limitations on the Death Row inmate to submit an application for a pardon. The application can be submitted by the inmate's lawyer or the inmate's family and this can be done with or without the agreement of the inmate. So, despite the bravado displayed by the three Bali Bombers (Amrozi, Samudera, and Ghufron) in their looking forward to their pending executions, the reality is that they are also fully aware that their lawyers and family could tie this execution thing up for the foreseeable future.

The Indonesian Attorney General has gone on the record as saying that he will give the lawyers or the family one more month to submit the pardon applications or he will schedule the execution. This makes the assumption that the bombers do not want to be pardoned and that there is a legal precedent for the scheduling of an execution prior to the exhaustion of all possible legal avenues. Unfortunately, for the AG he might not have the legal legs to stand on, as a literal interpretation of the relevant provisions clearly does not impose a time restriction on the inmates to submit a pardon application. To schedule an execution before the appeals and pardon processes have been fully played out would seem to be a breach of the inmates legal rights. It is a different debate with respect to whether they deserve such rights in light of the devastation and tragedy that they are responsible for. Nevertheless, the process must be allowed to run its full legal course.

The government's hands are tied. So, what next? The most simple option and the one most likely to avert ongoing protests from those keen to see the executions carried out sooner rather than later would be for the government to issue an Interim Law. An Interim Law is in essence a Government Regulation in Lieu of a Law that remains valid for a specified period. This specified period is the next sitting of the House of Representatives (DPR) where the DPR is required to either ratify or reject the Interim Law. This in itself creates the bizarre situation where prisoners may be executed under an Interim Law which may later not be ratified by the DPR or even if it is ratified might be subject to a constitutional challenge. The death penalty is already the subject of constitutional challenge by a group of Australian Death Row inmates (members of the Bali Nine).

So, when will the Bali Bombers be executed? Only time will tell but do not hold your breath. It is one of those cases where 'it will happen but we just do not know exactly when'.

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