Pubdate: Mon, 11 Oct 2004
Source: Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Copyright: The Jakarta Post
Author: Gandhi Sukardi


Few will dispute that drug abuse, if allowed to continue, poses a menace to 
the welfare of society. Most agree that those who break the law on drugs 
deserve harsh punishment. Those in possession of ecstasy pills, for 
instance, have often been arrested and put in jail. Sometimes, drug 
addicts, people who are really sick, both physically and mentally, have 
faced the same fate.

The law on drugs is directed particularly against the producers, 
distributors and sellers of drugs. This is also true of foreigners visiting 
this country, when found guilty of drug trafficking.

The prevailing law stipulates, as far as I know, that any visitor to this 
country found in possession of more than 12 kilograms of narcotics will not 
only risk arrest, but could also face the death penalty.

I am intrigued by the question of why Indonesia still uses capital 
punishment in sentencing drug traffickers, while many countries in Europe 
have abolished the death penalty for criminal violations.

To be precise, I am in principle against capital punishment, as it is 
against the spirit of the state philosophy Pancasila. At any rate, the law 
allowing capital punishment should be revoked. Or the courts should show 
more leniency in meting out sentences relating to drugs.

The president has the power and responsibility to commute a death sentence 
to life imprisonment, especially when it concerns foreign nationals. They 
should be expelled from the country instead of killing them by firing squad 
in the name of justice. Do not we get rid of them this way, too?

This is a controversial issue that needs to be addressed by lawmakers. 
Following three recent executions (one Indian, two Thai nationals), I was 
deeply moved and experienced a sense of guilt, wondering why their lives 
could not have been spared. Strangely enough, indeed, as if I had the right 
to revolt against such an universal injustice.

Gandhi Sukardi, Jakarta
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