End the death penalty
Editorial | Wed, March 20 2013
For every parent who has lost a child to drugs, for anyone who has survived a bombing attack or lost relatives, the death penalty is a fitting punishment, though it will never bring back lost loved ones.
So when convicted drug trafficker Adam Wilson was executed last Thursday, there was hardly a murmur of regret, safe from human rights activists. All visitors and citizens are warned about bringing drugs into the country and the penalty that awaits traffickers.
The Nigerian’s execution was the first since that of the Bali bombers in 2008, with over 100 Indonesians and foreigners currently on death row.
Campaigning for the right to life of the likes of drug dealers, traffickers and terrorists gains little traction here. The majority of Muslims believe the death sentence is endorsed by Islam; also, its legal foundation in the Criminal Code is replicated in several other laws such as the 2003 Terrorism Law and the 1951 Emergency Law.
Recent reports of murders and mutilation will provide additional boosts to public support for the death penalty. Few sympathize with reports revealing the long wait on death row, reaching 20 years in a number of cases, nor even the instances of punishing people who are later proved to be innocent — these are considered exceptions, however unfortunate.
Yet with the government’s efforts to protect Indonesians abroad from the same fate, we take the view that such attempts will go nowhere as long as we uphold the death penalty. Last October Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana said 198 Indonesians were awaiting execution in various countries.
Despite protests President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has granted 19 of 126 pleas for clemency since he took office in 2004. While many of his reasons cited in the cases were questioned — including the commuting of the death sentence to life for a repeat narcotics offender — the government hopes to gain reciprocal treatment for our nationals on death row overseas.
Our policy on criminals cannot be seen to be contradictory as we champion the right to life of our citizens behind bars in foreign lands.
The effectiveness of the death penalty has long come under scrutiny, particularly in countries where it is still upheld. Researchers on terrorism and terrorists’ lawyers argue that the death penalty only encourages martyrdom and “a new generation of terrorists” — the wide grins of the Bali bombers are hard to forget.
More recent arrests have indicated that the terrorist network has increasingly recruited younger people from various parts of the country.
The execution of drug traffickers and terrorist leaders raise questions as to whether more valuable information could have been extracted from them regarding their networks, given that the problems have not been eradicated.
Overall, Indonesians in general do not care for those on death row. But spare a thought for our convicted citizens overseas, including domestic worker Satinah in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to death for murdering her employer. We have failed on a number of occasions to save our workers from death at the hands of foreign governments.
This should not be surprising, as we also still champion our legal right to take the lives of others.