Monday, 29 January 2007

Indonesia's drug penalty 'appropriate' for syndicates

The former police chief who now leads Indonesia's efforts to control drug trafficking and drug abuse said he supported the death penalty as a deterrent.

But he was surprised at the death sentences given on appeal to four Australians from the 'Bali 9', according to a report by Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

I Made Mangku Pastika, chairman of the National Narcotics Board, said arrests for drug offences had doubled in the past five years and Indonesia was now a destination country for drugs from across the region.

He said Indonesia now received heroin from the borders of Afghanistan/Pakistan and Myanmar/Thailand, and ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine from China.

Pastika told a lunch of foreign reporters that the death penalty was "appropriate" for drug-trafficking syndicates.

"Indonesia is facing a much bigger drug problem than ever before."

Surprised, not surprised
Pastika, who was Bali's police chief at the time of the arrest of the Bali 9, said he was "surprised" when the Indonesian Supreme Court imposed death sentences on four of the group.

Scott Rush, Si Yi Chen, Matthew Norman and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen were sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by Bali's lower courts, raised to death on appeal despite the prosecution only demanding the reinstatement of life sentences.

But The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Pastika agreed with the death sentences given by the court in Denpassar to Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two prosecutors alleged had organised the group.

"These two arranged everything," he said.

The six Australians sentenced to death have reportedly all lodged appeals to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the constitution "guarantees the right to life under any circumstance".

More serious problems
The DPA report pointed to serious problems for Indonesia's fight against drugs, greater than the question of the penalties available to judges in drug cases.

It quoted Pastika as saying that Indonesia had made gains in its ability to fight drug trafficking, but he said the country still had "porous borders, relatively weak customs control" and "relatively weak law enforcement techniques".

In November 2006, a Vietnamese parliamentary commission admitted the death penalty was failing to deter drug crime, despite the large number of people the country executed each year for drug offences.

Related stories:
Firing squad for six of Bali Nine -- 11 September, 2006
Bali 9 death sentence confirmed -- 26 April, 2006

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