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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Indonesia's struggling economy cannot afford another execution, Bali Nine lawyer warns

Indonesia's struggling economy could be one reason why there has been little word of the country's next round of executions, according to the lead lawyer for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Australians Chan and Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, were among several foreigners shot dead in April.

According to high-profile Indonesian lawyer and professor Todung Mulya Lubis, who has been in Australia to talk about an ongoing campaign against the death penalty, it is too early to say if the economic slowdown was contributing to a de facto moratorium.

"But I believe that Jokowi now realises that he has to pay the price for those two executions," Professor Lubis said.

Late last year Indonesian president Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, said there would be no clemency for more than 60 people convicted of drugs offences, and two rounds of executions were carried out in the early part of 2015.

Indonesia's economic growth has now dipped below 5 per cent for two consecutive quarters this year, and much needed foreign investment is yet to pour in to help build up the nation's depleted infrastructure.

"The economy is not good at the moment," Professor Lubis said.

"We have a problem with our debt, you know, the balance. We have a problem with the weakening of the Indonesian currency.

"We have a problem with declining exports to other countries. And we cannot afford to have another execution, as simple as that."

The shooting of Chan and Sukumaran and several others, including a Brazilian man with mental health issues, saw substantial international pressure, including from the United Nations, put on the president.

The first round of executions in February resulted in a diplomatic stoush with Brazil, with some Indonesian politicians raising the idea of trade recriminations.

Mr Widodo was also supported domestically for pushing back against what was seen to be international meddling and for taking a strong stance against the drug trade.

Widodo 'knows new investment is not coming'

In the lead-up to the execution Mr Widodo was quietly advised by some prominent Indonesians of the damage using the death penalty could cause to relations with other countries including Australia, Holland, France and Brazil.

Now, with Indonesia recording its lowest economic growth rate for six years, investors are generally staying on the sidelines, waiting to see if the new government can deliver reforms, including dealing with regulatory certainty.

Professor Lubis is also known for his work with large corporate entities, and said he was seeing first-hand the nervousness in the business community about government policies.
Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui
"Jokowi realises, he understands, new investment is not coming to Indonesia," he said.

"Even the existing investment cannot be maintained. They may go any time.

"And I as a lawyer come across that. I know some of the companies ... are considering leaving, so that is not very good."

"I know some of the companies we work with are considering leaving."

A Frenchman and a Filipino woman escaped the firing squad in late April, and Indonesia's attorney-general has signalled a third round of executions has not yet been scheduled.

A 59-year-old British woman is among those facing the death penalty as part of the president's hardline stance.

Source: ABC News, Helen Brown, August 31, 2015

Related article:
- Forget Bali! The Philippines is a paradise home to more than 7000 islands, news.com.au, August 28, 2015. From lush, thick jungle to dramatic mountain ranges and glistening white sand beaches, the Philippines is home to more than 7000 idyllic islands, waiting to be explored.

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