Indonesian President Joko Widodo has maintained his controversial decision to deny clemency for nine drug smugglers set to be executed, known as the “Bali 9.” Though, Widodo stated he is open to abolishing the death penalty in Indonesia, only if the people want that change to happen.
The death sentence of two Australian men, Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33, has ignited diplomatic hostility between the two Pacific nations, following Australia’s continuous pleas for their livelihood. The two, who were charged and convicted of felony drug smuggling in 2005, are part of a larger group of up to 11 convicted smugglers, mostly foreign nationals, due to be sentenced to death in Nusakambangan. The exact date of the executions has not yet been announced.
Widodo explained his reason for denying their appeals for clemency is that he was neither convinced by the nationality of the convicts, nor the lobbying from their nation’s government officials. Moreover, Widodo said he took into consideration the amount of drugs that were smuggled into the country and then distributed. He said Indonesia’s court sentenced them to a penalty and he cannot discriminate between the convicts just because they are foreigners.
Widodo stated there is currently over 4.5 million people in drug rehabilitation programs in Indonesia, half of which cannot be cured. “We want to send a strong message to drug smugglers that Indonesia is firm and serious in tackling the drug problem and one of the consequences is execution if the court sentences them to death,” he said. There is a strong presence of illegally-acquired narcotics entering the villages of Indonesia. Widodo fervently stated he wants the future of his people to be bright and not to be scarred by the increased drug trafficking.
Although he strongly defends his decision not to grant clemency to the two Australians and others involved in the smuggling, Widodo said he will continue to work with foreign governments to ensure the safety of Indonesian citizens from executions when convicted of crimes overseas.
By Alex Lemieux
Photo by U.S. Embassy, Jakarta – Flickr License