The likely execution of six young Australians for drug offences in Bali is a shocking tragedy. Let us hope that it will deter others from bringing drugs into Australia. If it does, it may be that these six deaths will save hundreds of other young Australian lives from heroin overdoses.
The Bali Nine gambled and lost. They committed this crime for money. The difficulty is that they chose to commit the crime in Indonesia.
Most Asian countries have the death penalty for drugs. It is impossible to believe that the Bali Nine did not know the risk that they were running. Corby was arrested in Bali on 8 October 2004 with 4.1 kilos of cannabis. There was massive publicity in Australia, particularly as there seemed to be a risk that she could be executed. The Bali Nine had 8.3 kilos of heroin with a street value of maybe $5-10 million. They must have seen the Corby publicity yet they took the risk and were arrested on 17 April 2005. They knew the consequences.
The Australian government genuinely opposes capital punishment and will do everything it can to prevent the executions. The difficulty is that Indonesia is a sovereign country and has an absolute right to impose penalties according to its laws. This is particularly so when foreigners are fully aware of those laws.
I suspect that we are now in for another media feeding frenzy. The blame will laid upon the government (for not preventing the executions), the AFP (for assisting the Indonesian authorities and thus having “blood on their hands”) and the Indonesian judicial system. I doubt that we will see any blame attached to the criminals themselves. In our society, criminals such as these are the victims.
We must respect Indonesia and its laws. These criminals knowingly and deliberately flouted those laws, took the risk and, tragically, will now pay the ultimate price. It was their choice. Too much heroin, wrong country.