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).