Last month’s newsletter discussed the looming execution of convicted drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. In that newsletter, it was emphasised that capital punishment is a highly flawed mechanism in any criminal justice system, in that it is morally perverse and fails to fulfil any goals in relation to advancing the protection of society.
In this month’s edition, we express our devastation upon learning that Myuran and Andrew were both executed (along with six other death row prisoners) on Wednesday, April 29 just before3:30am AEST on Nusa Kambangan Island, Indonesia.
We here at AFFMA would like to reiterate our condemnation of these actions. The death penalty is archaic. If it is ever to be used, it should only be applied in the most exceptional of circumstances. In these circumstances, its application was both cruel and unnecessary.
Both Myuran and Andrew had demonstrably changed during their time in prison. Indeed, the two were taking an active role in helping their fellow inmates undergo the process of rehabilitation through a variety of programs the two had implemented.
This is not to condone the actions of drug smugglers. Indonesia’s drug problems are very much a reality. Thousands suffer each year as a result of their drug addiction, which is enabled by the actions of drug smugglers.
However these problems would be more effectively addressed if action were taken against the rampant corruption within the police force, as well as the Indonesian state as a whole. The use of the death penalty here is largely illusory. It leads the Indonesian public that their government is taking the most effective stance against drug smuggling and actively seeking to reduce Indonesia’s drug problems.
As one commentator pointed out, the execution is essentially an ’empty gesture’. It allows the Widodo government to draw greater public support from the Indonesian public without actually doing anything that would objectively justify that support.
Myuran and Andrew were both rehabilitated men who sought to do something positive with their lives. Describing their killing as ‘barbaric’ or ‘state sanctioned murder’ is very much appropriate in this case.
May they rest in peace. We express our condolences to the families of Andrew and Myuran.