Two members of the ‘Bali 9’ group of Australians incarcerated in Indonesia have been given 72 hours’ notice of their execution. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who have been held since 2005, are two of nine Australians who have been charged with planning to move 8.3kg of heroin from Bali, Indonesia to Australia. The other seven members of the group either received life sentences or 20 years’ incarceration. Under Indonesian law, inmates receive at least 72 hours’ notice of their execution which means the earliest it may happen is today. Australia has called for the plans to be prevented until a transparent account of events may be proven in the investigation. On Monday, the Indonesian Attorney General confirmed that the events might go ahead – although there is yet to be a time or day announced.
The ‘Bali 9’ consists of Andrew Chan, Si Yi Chen, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Norman, Scott Rush, Martin Stephens and Myuran Sukumaran. Renae Lawrence is the sole recipient of the 20 year sentence meaning that everyone, except Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran due to the belief that they acted as co-ringleaders, received life incarceration. The 8.3 kg of heroin they were attempting to move to Australia may have been worth as much as $3.1 million. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is reported to be aiming to highlight the country’s stern narcotic laws to try and reduce the frequency. Equally, President Widodo was elected with popular support although recently has seen reductions in his approval ratings and, with some in the country calling for similar sentences for other crimes, might look for a method to promote his record of strong law and order.
Advocates for Mr. Chan and Mr. Sukumaran campaign with the angle that the Australians have reformed during their incarceration. Myuran Sukumaran is reported to be running bible study classes, whilst Andrew Chan is said to have changed and taken art classes. There have been calls for clemency and further investigation into the transparency of the sentencing process. Certainly, a shipment of this volume and value being prevented from entering circulation is seen as effective policing, although Australia is requesting for clemency due to resistance to execution both abroad and at home.
Chan and Sukumaran are alongside eight people facing the same sentence who have also been given 72 hours’ notice. The group is mainly foreigners (albeit with one Indonesian) from France, Nigeria, Brazil, the Philippines and Australia. The Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte, is said by his family to have mental conditions. People with mental health conditions are, under Indonesian law, prohibited from prosecution and are to be cared for in a mental hospital instead. The Indonesian government is reportedly waiting for the results of a mental health assessment.
The family and close friends of Chan and Sukumaran are present or travelling to the facility and may be have the role of bearing witness to the events. The families have continually supported Mr. Chan and Mr. Sukumaran in their attempts to gain clemency. Equally, the Australian government is apparently attempting to change the direction of events by its calls for clemency. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated that he wanted to “reassure Australians that even at this hour, we are continuing to make the strongest possible representations to the Indonesian Government”. The Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also highlighted the fact that the United Nation’s Secretary-General issued a statement urging mercy to be shown to those involved.
In a diverse world there are numerous different values, as well as variations in what emphasis is placed on regarding certain laws across different countries. Cases involving narcotics are prone to this due to the wide differences in sentencing between these countries. Moreover, the fact that these substances are moved across borders lends international as well as domestic factors. Perhaps an important step in the prevention of these situations is education of the laws of different countries, especially where sentences can be significantly different to someone’s country of origin. It is yet to be seen as to whether the international calls for clemency may change the situation in Indonesia.
How might the fate of the Bali 9 change international relations?