15 March 2009

Bali Nine, Death Penalty, Appeals, and the Supreme Court

In a turn of events which is likely to see a call for the death penalty process to be sped up against Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran, and Scott Rush, the three members of the Bali Nine sentenced to death and biding their time in Kerobokan prison, the Supreme Court has prepared a document that clearly puts the timing of appeals and ultimate executions squarely in the hands of prosecutors.

This is interesting timing for a number of reasons, none more so than this is an election year, and this is clearly an emotionally charged issue, with divergent views on the death penalty in general. However, in this case there is the added factor that the current president has adopted a hard line approach to drugs and those that deal in them. Therefore, to say the prospects of a reprieve for these three has taken a dive would be an understatement.

I am anti-death penalty and would hope that the president would exercise compassion once all other legal avenues have been exhausted and only a presidential act of clemency remains. I would hope that the sentence would be commuted to life in prison. The reality is that Australians, and all others as well, must realize that the trafficking of drugs in Indonesia exposes you to the death penalty. This is not Australian where you might do a 7 - 10 year stretch in jail for the equivalent crime.

You do the crime, then you deserve to do the time. I just think that in this case, and despite the seriousness of the crime, the death penalty is too severe a punishment. People will undoubtedly disagree with me on this, and you are free to do so, I believe in second chances in circumstances such as these, particularly in Rush's case where he has confessed to his role and expressed remorse at his actions. In this case, rehabilitation is a very real possibility. Here is a young kid who could conceivably still make very long and positive contributions to his community.

Unfortunately, the signs are looking bad for these three as the process in drafting the document and the discussion of it has seen them mentioned specifically as individuals that the new provisions are most likely to affect. Ultimately, these three are to become pawns in the Indonesian - Australian bilateral relationship and presidential politics.

Simple message - Drugs and Indonesia do not mix (particularly through airports).


Harry Nizam H. said...

I wonder whether those Drug Dealers ever care about the miseries sufferred by the junkies, their families, their friends and the society as a whole.
Those Dealers are enjoying BIG MONEY paid by the Junkies who'll do anything to get drugs, incl. Beg, Steal and Kill anybody.

Rob Baiton said...


I figured that you might comment on this piece, and I am always glad that you swing by and comment.

I do not think that the big boys do care all that much, it is just business. That said, I do not think that these fellas are the big boys of this operation.

I have not been privy to the police data so I cannot honestly say with any certainty that they are not.

I am not saying that drugs are not a problem and I am not saying that the impacts on individuals and society as a whole are not severe.

I am saying that I think the punishment does not necessarily fit the crime. I would be OK with life in prison (with some considerations regarding rehabilitation).

I am against the death penalty as I do not think that it acts as a deterrent. I could pony up the stats (which I have in other posts). But, on an anecdotal level, if the death penalty was a deterrent then one has to ask why people still commit death penalty crimes?

SO, to be clear, I am not suggesting that these fellas get a free pass, far from it. I am suggesting that I think there is a better way.

treespotter said...

legalize it?

Rob Baiton said...


I believe that I have made that point fairly consistently elsewhere.

A good little revenue earner for the government. The arguments that it is more harmful that alcohol or tobacco remain to be proved in my mind.

Furthermore, the more dangerous angle also needs to take into account that it is illegal and all illegal activities arguably have inherent dangers and increased risks associated with them.

So, why you still up and about at this time of the morning?

pj said...

I would hazard a guess that those drug dealers are the biggest promoters of anti drug laws - they have the most to lose if drugs are ever legalised.The most powerful are never caught. Instead they play a cynical game of averages in which they know that if 20 mules are sent only a few may be caught.

Goverments should be concentrating more on what people do when they use drugs, not the use of drugs per say.
For example its ok to have a drink but to drink and drive?

Rob Baiton said...


As always excellent points :D