26 June 2008

State Sanctioned Killing

Indonesia will execute two Nigerians later tonight. Although this is more likely to be in the wee hours of Friday morning as executions normally take place around 2am for some reason. This must be a reminder to all those contemplating smuggling drugs; it simply is not worth your life!

Maybe the Attorney General, Hendarman Supandji, has decided to execute a few people in the hope of taking the heat off of himself and an ongoing corruption scandal which is more than likely see him removed as the revelations of involvement keep moving on up the food chain at the Office of the Attorney General.

However, the reasons aside for the first executions of drug traffickers since 2004, it must not be forgotten that these two individuals smuggled drugs, were caught, tried and convicted in a court of law, and will soon pay the ultimate price for their stupidity.

The National Police Chief, General Sutanto, has also gone on the record to say that the executions should act as a deterrent. Nevertheless, they won't there is no sustainable evidence to suggest that the risk of death is a deterrent to the smuggling of drugs. Some people are just so desperate that no matter what the risk is they will still try and smuggle drugs.

Hansen Anthony Nwaolisa was caught trafficking 600g heroin in 43 capsules from Pakistan in January 2001. Samuel Iwachekawu Okoye was caught with 3.8kg of heroin in his luggage after arriving from India in January 2001.

Both men were sentenced to death in mid-2001 and their final appeals for clemency were rejected in July 2004. They are currently in special holding cells at the Nusakambangan Prison in Central Java.

According to Amnesty International, "Experts in international law, including the top UN officials, have confirmed that applying the death penalty for drug-related offences is a breach of international law".

The latest figures state that there are almost 60 people on death row in Indonesia for drug related offences and of these almost half are foreigners.


Polar Bear said...

SNAP again Rob.... :)

Do you know anythng about this "International Law?

I am afraid i was far less objective than you when discussing the issue, and I am very sorry to see two lives lost like this. But we need to eradicate the drug problem.

Rob Baiton said...


I do! I was thinking about writing a more detailed / analytical piece on the death penalty in international law as it is not a clear cut case of being prohibited. There are arguable exceptions.

It is arguable that the death penalty for drug offences is prohibited under international law. However, this would require one to make a sustainable legal argument that drug offences do not constitute a "most serious crime".

Yep, on the eradication of drugs and drug trafficking.

If all countries legalized drugs, regulated the market, and the manner in which drugs were distributed and prescribed then there would be less drug related crime but perhaps myriad of other drug related issues to contend with.

As it is I question the deterrent factor of the death penalty and question the value of the death penalty as a punishment.

Just me.

Polar Bear said...

I agree Rob. Shooting them in a quiet corner of Nusakambangan Prison will hardly deter anyone.

I could tihnk of better ways of doing it that might deter anyone and everyone.

Rob Baiton said...


Somehow that does not surprise me!

The mind boggles at the thought of what you might have in mind as a deterrent...

treespotter said...

perhaps something similar to a public caning?


I'm all for capital punishment, let's start on this one, polygamy bores me and brings about only the trolls..

Polar Bear said...

I said my piece elsewhere on the subject.

I have visited people doing very long terms in jail for smuggling drugs. In some cases far more than the Nigerians. Some were just smart asses who thought they didn’t have to follow the rules. Some were desperate for cash.

One young girl is doing a long time for being in a car with her BF. Under her seat, unknown to her (according to her version of events) was a large pack of heroin. The car is pulled over, its under her seat. Its her BFs car, its an expensive one, and he doesn’t have a job, or any visible means of income.

The jury found they didn’t believe she didn’t ask him where the money for his extravagant lifestyle came from, and she knew about the pack under the seat.

I found her story believable, she was a young migrant girl, and wasn’t bright. Maybe she thought money grew on trees here. She is doing 14 years.

Would I shoot her? Would I shoot her BF? Am I happy that some guy I would buy a beer for in a bar is about to be shot tonight?


It marks the failure of our society.

Rob Baiton said...


This is a subject that interests the hell out of me as well. Mainly for the legal issues as I enjoy the challenge of constructing a sustainable legal argument in the warm and fuzzy area of international law.

International law is also often cited as being soft law but I beg to differ and there are considerable amounts of international law that would reasonable classified as hard law (for want of a better term).

Trolls...they are everywhere :D

A good trollop though...well that is another story for another time!

Rob Baiton said...

The two Nigerians were executed at exactly 00.00 at Nusakambangan.

The executioners were from a Mobile Brigade (Brimob) Unit stationed in Central Java.

Rob Baiton said...

Should read Brimob Polda (Polisi Daerah / Regional Police)...

Polar Bear said...

So Rob, what standing does International Law have?

Can it overrule the laws of a state?

Who creates these laws?

IMHO international law is highly problematic. Let me give you an example. In Australia you can be jailed for having sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, even if that intercourse took place outside of Australian jurisdiction. (This is an attempt to stem the insidious pedophile sex tourism trade).

However the age of consent laws in other countries are:
Canada: 14
France: 15
Japan: 13
USA: 14-18, depending on state
Italy/Lithunia/South Carolina/China: 14
Mexico: 12 +
Germany: 14-16
Denmark: 15
Argentina: 13-16

So I could visit these countries, legally have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16, and be prosecuted in Australia. (Not that I do, nor do I want to, I simply give the example.)
And suppose I MARRY the girl, and bring her back to Australia? I am forced to suspend the marital relationship I enjoyed in her home nation.
And don’t lets even look at TAX laws……

Rob Baiton said...


International law is what it is. How does it apply in national jurisdictions is an ongoing debate that would require a lengthy post of its own.

However, the orginial post was one on rug trafficking and whether international law permits the execution of drug traffickers.

The arguments here are based on what constitutes the most serious crimes under international law as this would appear to be the loophole on this front.

PB, I have to say that this is not about underage sex and whether you can have sexual intercourse with someone overseas and be prosecuted in Australia.

The issue was really one about drugs and the death penalty. You are taking it off topic and introducing an issue that is irrelevant to the issues with respect to drugs.

Your analogy of underage sex is a comparison between two domestic jurisdictions and does not rely on international law per se. In interantional law the age of consent would most likely be 18 as contained in conventions that protect the rights of children.

As I said this whole topic would require a more detailed post to start off the discussion.

Polar Bear said...

Rug trafficking is a dreadful crime against humanity.

I admit I have been tempted to bring an Axminster into the Iceberg hidden in my suitcase, but thank God sanity prevailed. Who knows what damage would be done to the young Polar Bears if I had. I once remember me and this Chinese girl lying on a rug and……


Ahhh, it was a typo. Doesn’t matter then :)

Polar Bear said...

In my defence Rob:

if Corby had been caught and tried under Australian jurisdiction should would be unlucky to get 4 years, with parole she would be out in 3.

If the two Nigerians had been caught here they would serve about 5-8 years.

The severity of both sentences was because of the disparities between domestic jurisdictions, the same disparities that existed in my example. It simple proves that we don't have an effective International Law.

Just my 2C worth….

Rob Baiton said...


This is the thing. Drug trafficking as I see it is not a crime against humanity in the sense of current definitions of the term.

You could probably try and make a case for such a definition but I do not think you would succeed in the current climate.

Is drug trafficking bad? Simple answer is, yes. The question though is does it warrant the death penalty being applied. This is where the argument resides.

It is not a disparity issue in whether you get 4, 5, or 8 years but rather whether you can be sentenced to death for the crime.

International law on this point states that the death penalty is not a suitable sentence for the crime.

Nevertheless, there are more complex arguments than these simple ones presented here :D

Polar Bear said...

The nicer side of me says a death penalty is not justified for any crime.

Notwithstanding that, the alternatives are not nice either. Clockwork Orange type re-education, or hash long term imprisnoment might seem worse than death.

Rob Baiton said...

A Clockwork Orange -- a personal favourite...

Rob Baiton said...


My take has always been that you do the crime you do the time.

I think that harsh prison time is potentially much worse than death. You get to reflect on your crime for a long period of time and you might not ever get the chance to take a deep breath of fresh air as a free person.

Nah, I think long and harsh prison sentences are always much better forms of punishment.