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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

In the end, Chan and Sukumaran's executions stung Indonesia's economy, not its conscience

Nusakambangan Island, where Indonesia carried out the execuctions
Nusakambangan Island, where Indonesia carried out the execuctions
On the night of 28 April, much of the world’s media was trained on a prison island off central Java where eight prisoners, including two Australians, were executed at midnight.

The lead up to the executions and the diplomatic repercussions that followed dominated much of the Australian news agenda for the first four months of this year.

Yet after so much sound and fury, debate about the death penalty and engagement with Indonesia on the issue seems to have dropped away.

Sixty people convicted of drug offences were due to be executed this year. So far, 14 have been killed. Why haven’t any other executions been held since that night in April when Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, and six others, were killed?

Anti-death penalty activists – including myself – have been holding our breath, waiting with dread for further killings to be announced, but the year is racing to a close and the state’s lethal urges appear to be spent.

Indonesia’s so-called drugs emergency, which was the reason given for the rush to the gallows in the first place, has not suddenly gone away. Nor has there been a sudden surge of humanity. But Indonesia’s economy is hurting and the very public spectacle of the executions in April hasn’t helped.

The cost of the executions is being picked over by local press. The last two rounds of executions cost around AU$206,000. For the April executions, Indonesia allocated around AU$20,000 for each prisoner in its “execution budget” and chose Nusakambangan Island for the venue because it was cheaper than other locations. According to local media reports in May, Indonesia’s attorney general wanted to further save costs in the third round of executions.

It’s not just the cost of the actual executions that is putting Indonesians off. A bad economy, a tanking rupiah, slowing growth and the desire to attract foreign investment have meant the “third round” has not gone ahead.

Dr Vannessa Hearman, a lecturer in Indonesian studies at the University of Sydney, told Guardian Australia that the Indonesian government has not yet named when the next batch of executions would take place. “After talk about the third wave, there doesn’t seem to be any further developments,” she said.

Hearman says that while there have been reports about a move away from carrying out executions “because they cost a lot of money and the focus is on growth ... this stalling is more a response to the international outcry to the executions.”

Source: The Guardian, Brigid Delaney, November 10, 2015

Indonesia plans to use crocodiles to guard death row drug convicts

Bali's Kerobokan prison
Bali's Kerobokan prison
Indonesia’s anti-drugs agency has proposed building a prison on an island guarded by crocodiles to hold death row drug convicts, an official has said, an idea seemingly taken from a James Bond film.

The proposal is the pet project of anti-drugs chief Budi Waseso, who plans to visit various parts of the archipelago in his search for reptiles to guard the jail.

“We will place as many crocodiles as we can there. I will search for the most ferocious type of crocodile,” he was quoted as saying by local news website Tempo.

Waseso said that crocodiles would be better at preventing drug traffickers from escaping prison as they could not be bribed – unlike human guards.

“You can’t bribe crocodiles. You can’t convince them to let inmates escape,” he said.

The plan is still in the early stages, and neither the location or potential opening date of the jail have been decided.

Indonesia already has some of the toughest anti-narcotics laws in the world, including death by firing squad for traffickers, and sparked international uproar in April when it put to death seven foreign drug convicts, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Despite the harsh laws, Indonesia’s corrupt prison system is awash with drugs, and inmates and jail officials are regularly arrested for narcotics offences.

Source: The Guardian, Agence France-Presse, November 10, 2015

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