Sunday, 26 April 2015

If death penalty is deterrence then why penalise those who have reformed? An Open Letter to Indonesian President Mr. Joko Widodo

We understand that Indonesia is a magnet for tourists, that the sprawling archipelago is very vulnerable to drug peddling. 

The scourge of drugs needs to be eliminated socio economically. The same reasons that push the drug addicts to the edge pull the drug peddlers too. Battling against drugs is one of the biggest scourges of this day and age. Awareness, intelligence and enforcement are the effective responses.

The countries which clandestinely promoted drugs have now legalised usage of drugs under alibi of medical marijuana!

Death penalty will certainly not eliminate drug peddling. Even the parents of the Bali Nine (or ten – the numbers do not matter) cannot give life to their sons and daughters again. What right does any State then have to take away the lives of precious human beings?

Having to face a firing squad is akin to dying a thousand deaths even before the firing squad takes aim because, having to wait for the decisions on clemency is more torturous, if that can be imagined at all. 

The Filipino lady Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso who is the only woman amongst the Bali Nine to be sentenced – apparently called her family on Saturday, 25th April to convey the news that she will be executed on 28th April. Can we think of any worse analogy?  Can we ever put ourselves in the shoes of these human beings and can we imagine having to walk in chains to the execution pillar in Nusa Kambangan?  

I have not been able to sleep in peace ever since the ring leaders lost their mercy petition few weeks ago. I haven’t ever met these nine people but it disturbs me that any human being has to wait for someone to decide if he or she has to face the firing squad.

One of the Bali Nine is apparently a mental health disorder patient. Penalising him to death sentence is a gross violation of human rights. Want of Mens rea (intention to commit an offence in criminal jurisprudence) which is the true ingredient of a criminal offence entitles the offender to lenient views and fair consideration for lack of criminal intent – according to criminal jurisprudence. Can we imagine or can we condone a mentally ill patient being chained and taken to the execution pillar?

Mercy petitions’ depending on the President of a sovereign nation brings a whole gamut of issues into a complicated knot of human rights. Without untying these knots subjecting a reformed person to a death squad is not just medieval and feudal but begs a reasonable argument.

There is also the prospect of severely denting international relations. Repercussions on trade with Australia seem to be very big consequence that will hurt Indonesians.  

Effective enforcement includes punishing the guilty no doubt but not with death sentence, it should be rather a fair trial and its efficacy lies more in awareness creation. Publicity for awareness programmes help. Publicity of the ilk being given to the Bali Nine ring leaders is more like publicity given to trophy winners. Unfortunate.

Drug peddlers are thus not munitions in the war against drugs but must be utilised to garner intelligence and render more effective enforcement. That is a sure fire way of winning the war against drugs… and if the ring leaders – Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan – who have reformed were to be given the responsibility of the war against drugs, it is a win- win situation. None can give life to these death row convicts… Spare their lives Mr. President…hire these ring leaders  and their fellow death row convicts to wage the war against drugs. Do not pay them a salary or any honorarium but spare their lives Sir.

Malini Shankar, Photojournalist from Bangalore, a very disturbed and concerned Soul from Bangalore, India. 

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