In 2006, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, two members of the ‘Bali Nine’, were sentenced to death over a 2005 plot to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia. Within weeks, they may both face a firing squad.
Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has assured the families of the death row drug traffickers that the government will not relent in its efforts to seek clemency for their relatives. These efforts have included Tony Abbott appealing directly to the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, in addition to more than 50 meetings that have taken place over the issue.
Bishop believes that both Australians have “made significant efforts at rehabilitation” which should be taken into account. But so far, Indonesia – a country facing a drug crisis and where drug trafficking carries the death penalty – has rebuffed Australia’s pleas.
Indonesian Attorney-General HM Prasetyo has defended his country’s decision to execute drug offenders, saying: “This is a form of a firm act by the Indonesian government, that we would never compromise with drug syndicates, dealers, and distributors.”
“I hope the public would understand, and it’s time for us, including families, to see this as our responsibility, and let each of us prevent the wide spread of drug abuse,” said Mr Prasetyo. “A drug case is an extraordinary crime, hence we have to handle it extraordinarily. Indonesia has to be saved from the danger of drugs.”
Sukumaran’s plea for clemency was rejected last Thursday, however, Chan’s request is still pending. Should Chan’s request be denied, the pair would be executed together, as Indonesian law requires that prisoners who commit a crime together must be executed together. However, this same law may prove to be the pair’s saviour if Chan’s clemency application is granted, as it is possible that Sukamaran could also be spared.
The pair’s lawyer Julian McMahon has not given up hope and said he was still confident that his clients’ rehabilitation could work in their favour, adding: “there’s almost certainly no one in the entire system remotely as clearly and powerfully effective in their rehabilitation as my two clients.”
Mr McMahon also conceded that, at this stage, saving the lives of Sukamaran and Chan might be an “uphill battle”.
Read more at ABC.net.au
Read more at The Guardian.
Australia last executed a prisoner in 1967, when the infamous Ronald Ryan was hanged in Victoria. Since 2010, federal legislation has prohibited capital punishment in all Australian states and territories. Indonesia, on the other hand, still incorporates capital punishment as part of their legal system.
There is much debate as to whether the death penalty is a suitable sentence for certain crimes, but which crimes warrant capital punishment? Multiple murder, rape, child abuse, drug smuggling – certainly, there are justifiable arguments both for and against using the death sentence as the harshest of penalties for these most heinous of crimes.
I am a big believer in second chances, and I do feel that if a prisoner can be rehabilitated, then that surely, should be the ultimate aim of the justice system when it comes to punishing crime. But I cannot say that I would be comfortable with this sentiment, if this was a case of child abuse, rape or murder. And therein lies the conundrum of capital punishment.
Drug smuggling may seem a lesser crime when compared to such a terrible act as killing a child, but drugs can, and do, ruin lives of many and in theory, stopping the import of illicit substances into a country is a crucial step in eliminating the threat of drugs. But is it an offence that warrants punishment by death? It is in Indonesia.
As Indonesia is well known for utilising the death penalty as a punishment for drug smuggling, any offenders breaking the law in this respect, should expect the harshest of penalties. I’m not saying I believe in the death penalty – but I do feel that if you are in someone else’s house, you should abide by their rules.
What do you think? Do you feel that rehabilitation is preferable to the death penalty, even if the crime is of the most despicable nature? Which crimes, if any, do you feel warrant the death sentence? Do you think that Chan and Sakamuran should be given a chance to prove themselves rehabilitated?