"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Executions: Jokowi’s ‘comedy of errors’, or Pandora’s Box?

Indonesian president Joko Widodo
The drug-convict executions were a “comedy of errors” of sorts, a really pathetic and tragic one. They also opened up a Pandora’s Box. Hopefully, they also provide insights about Jokowi, Indonesia and the countries whose citizens were executed.

First of all, is it a question of numbers, or is it a matter of principle? Surveys show that the majority of Indonesians support the death penalty.

Well, after all, this is a country where a mob can decide that a chicken thief can be beaten to death. These days it’s motorcycle thieves who get clobbered. Maybe Indonesians don’t think death is such a big deal. More people get born than die here anyway. Life is cheap and memories short. Remember 1965-66 anyone?

Secondly, does killing the drug traffickers really save the lives of Indonesian drug addicts, or reduce drug trafficking? Of course not (despite Indonesia having one of the toughest drug laws in the world). Deep down inside, even Jokowi knows it doesn’t. How can it, when the death penalty has never yet been used on well-connected, big-time dealers, only on small fry?

Lindsay Sandiford, the grandma from the UK, Maria Jane Veloso, the migrant worker from the Philippines, and Serge Areski Atlaoui from France were most likely unwitting pawns. For now they’re still alive, but with the government mulling over the third batch of executions, who knows how long these three convicts are still free to breath the stench of death on Nusakambangan island, Indonesia’s Alcatraz?

But then, the legal system in Indonesia is also famous for being “tajam ke bawah, tumpul ke atas” (sharp for the weak and blunt for the powerful). Well, at least we’re not unique in this respect — not that that’s any comfort.

Franz Magnis-Suseno, the Jesuit priest and social-political analyst, has another take: that Indonesia’s legal system is a wani piro one. Wani piro is Javanese for “How much are you willing to pay?, like an auction where the highest bidder wins.

Magnis-Suseno says that our Indonesian wani piro legal system has no business killing people. But it does, in more ways than one. And when it colludes with the other most corrupt institution in Indonesia, the police, what hope does one have for justice?


Source: The Jakarta Post, Opinion, Julia Suryakusuma, May 6, 2015

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