Indonesia executes eight drugs smugglers

I have blogged previously about the death penalty. It is only fair to state at the outset that I am fundamentally opposed to it. The BBC are reporting that despite a chorus of international pleas for clemency the Indonesian authorities have executed eight drugs smugglers.

They included two Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (the ring leaders of the so called Bali nine) who were arrested 10 years ago as part of an operation involving the Australian police. The Australian government have been accused of a degree of hypocrisy regarding Messers. Chan and Sukumaran in that the men were clearly guilty of a major drug smuggling operation and that their deaths will not be allowed to sour relations in the medium to long term. In addition the others condemned and now killed (not from western countries) received considerably less attention. The BBC also notes the other people due to be executed around the world at about the same time.

Chan and Sukumaran had to a significant degree turned their lives around in gaol with Chan becoming a preacher and Sukumaran a painter. Both did seem to have made a significant attempt at rehabilitation (though cynics would probably suggest that is unsurprising considering the fate that awaited them). Clearly they had committed serious crimes but whether execution is the appropriate penalty for drug dealing is an interesting question even leaving aside support for the death penalty for murder. Interestingly a number of Far Eastern states have the death penalty for drug smuggling as well as murder. In addition they and most of the other death penalty countries do not seem to agonise about the method of execution unlike the USA. Clive Stafford Smith the originally British lawyer who is a leading anti death penalty advocate in the USA has suggested that the emotional distress of death row is far worse than whatever method of execution is used.

The Guardian has a haunting report about the thoughts of one of the police officers who has to perform the executions. He seems to find securing the prisoners much worse than actually shooting them (he appears to have done both). Interestingly and unsurprisingly the psychological distress caused to executioners is a frequent theme which is probably not discussed frequently enough. It seems quite different to the distress caused by killing people in military or active crime fighting situations.

Chan and Sukumaran’s case had been vocally supported by the Australian public and death penalty opponents worldwide. Amnesty UK featured their case prominently this week on both their website and Facebook pages, as did Amnesty Ireland’s Facebook page. As a final thought unfortunately Amnesty Northern Ireland had, at the time of writing, nothing on either their website or Facebook page which is scandalous.

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  • david crookes

    Thanks, Turgon.
    I hate the barbarity of any modern state which punishes people by killing them. John 8. 2-11 strikes me as recording a most important moment in history.

  • Mister_Joe

    I understand the objections to Capital Punishment. I am generally against it too. My only exception would be for serial killers found guilty on completely separate killings. The chances in that case of executing an innocent person would, I think, be zero.
    In the case of the Indonesian executions, I believe that the perpetrators knew what the penalty would be if they were caught. They went ahead, regardless, and we don’t know how many other lives would have been lost as a consequence of their greed. I find it hard to sympathize with them.

  • Fatika

    Thousands and possibly millions
    of victims already dead due to drug
    addiction both adults to children. How do you feel if your family or
    your child who
    died because of drugs? Drug dealers are the
    fiercest creatures in the world
    and they’ve deserved
    the death penalty. Support, defend
    and showing sympathy to the drug dealers
    are pretty darned deed. Justice for
    the victims who died
    from drug addiction should be

  • Fatika

    defend and
    showing sympathy to the drug dealers
    are pretty darned deed and barbaric

  • Gingray

    Oh behave fatika, it is entirely possible to disagree with capital punishment without supporting the crime.

  • Gingray

    Good post Turgon, you have been covering a nice diverse range of topics recently, interesting reads.

  • Korhomme

    Creating a war on social issues such as alcohol, drugs and sex is an invitation for organised crime to take over the supply. The death penalty for a few drug smugglers won’t stop the problem, if people need, want and demand things that are illegal.

    Rather, decriminalise but regulate.

  • Barneyt

    I think many would concur with you on this. We can all be anti-capital punishment, but many of us could be presented with a scenario whereby we might find ourselves feeling a tad hypocritical. Your examples are good, but what about a more emotive case, that of child abuse (of the worst kind). Many would find it even harder to sympathise.

    The death penalty does not sit comfortably with me, and killing in response to the crime of murder in some ways lessons the deed and perpetuates the killing. However, I know I would find it hard to weep if a serial killer or child abuser was caught, irrefutably found to be culpable and then terminated.

  • Barneyt

    Are you not confusing sympathy with correction? It does seem that some level of correction has occurred in the prison. Its the small guy or the mule that typically gets caught, and they represent the tip of the iceberg.

    If anything that has a market value and subsequent demand, becomes illicit, exorbitantly priced or scarce for other reasons, alternative markets will emerge…usually black. Organisations that are equipped to bypass many state and international controls are naturally drawn to these products if not enabled by them and the riches they bring. It becomes self fulfilling in that the price inflates, the rewards increase which be-gets further capability within these crime organisations. With plenty of impoverished willing to sacrifice their current circumstances to run such a gauntlet, we get a proliferation. Many other growth words can be used to describe the market escalation.

    Now, the whole driver behind drug legalisation is not to endorse their consumption, as that will happen anyhow. If drugs become available via the state (like alcohol, tobacco), it provides safer outlets for acquiring these substances. I hear you say, but that is wrong. Yes it is. Its a lesser evil though. It makes sense to approach a pharmacy for a regulated safe dose than it does a street seller.

    By state intervention, we reduce the dependency on the drug barons. We can ensure that any drugs sold via the state are at least clean and not infused within chemical substances to increase volume and profit. We create some distances between drug consumption and the inevitable interfaces with the criminal world. The illicit market becomes undermined and the consumers are unearthed, placing them more readily in reach of rehabilitation measures and alternatives.

    By legalising drugs, the governments will have to encourage the growing of the base product from which the substances are derived. They cant rely on intercepting shipments, as the government becomes a distributor of illegally produced drugs, who’s quality cannot be guaranteed.

    The whole aim is to undermine the market and break the cycle. Drugs are out of control and there are untold social problems as a result. By stepping in, decriminalising its use and managing the production and sale, so many benefits will emerge, but it may not seem that way initially.

    It will and has to always remain legal if we go down this path, as we will soon return to square one with subsequent prohibition.

  • chrisjones2

    There’s a bit of a difference between adultery and smuggling drugs into Bali

  • Carl Mark

    it was a veryimportant moment in history but the principal it expresses is surely a most important one, it is surely at the very centre of the Christian ethos and should be at the centre of any civilised society’s ethos.

  • Chingford Man

    I don’t relish the act of killing anyone, but I think justice was done in this case. Is locking someone up for the rest of their natural lives (the only other possibly appropriate penalty for heroin dealing) any less cruel?

  • chrisjones2

    Is locking people up for life in an Indonesian prison really a more humane alternative?

  • Carl Mark

    bloody good point, spent a bit of time in Indonesia and since no society treats it prisoners better than its citizens then knowing the level of corruption in the state machinery then I imagine that unless you got money then prison in Indonesia especially for a Orang Baret will be pretty bad.