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BALI NINE

Bureaucratic murder

I feel a heavy weight in the pit of my stomach as I write this. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have been moved to Nusa Kambangan, where Indonesia's prisoners are executed. They are killed by firing squad.

Their death is now +-3 days away. After many years, the bureaucratic wheels are now moving more quickly.

I understand that Indonesia wants to stop the drug trade, for good reason, even though the drugs in question were bound for Australia. Had it not been for the Australian Federal Police tipping off the Indonesian police, these two men would not now be facing the ultimate penalty, which is not applied in the country the federal police of which is ultimately responsible for handing then over.

I so, however, understand that the laws of other countries apply in those countries. Our governments keep reminding us of this, and it is wise to take note. Once convicted of a crime elsewhere, even if it is not a crime in Australia, there is precious little that the government can do.

I also understand taking a life in self-defence. Drastic circumstances may call for drastic measures, and I have seen such circumstances (though, thankfully, not acted upon them).

It is even understandable, if not allowable, that one might take a life in a moment of passion or anger. This is wrong, but it is at least not pre-planned.

I also understand the necessity of due judicial process which can prolong final outcomes for years. We must have due process, exhausting all legal avenues of appeal, for whatever outcome it might be.

What I struggle to understand is that, having made a decision many years before, the bureaucracy of a state grinds over its slow and deliberate wheels to process the taking of life, and then does so. For me, regardless of the crime, having the intent and planning, this is bureaucratic murder.

No country should do this - not Indonesia, not the United States - no-one. The bureaucratic taking of life does not speak to the sins of the condemned, but about the intrinsic values of the condemner. For this reason, I oppose state murder, everywhere, always.

Schapelle slips the system, but faces a world of attention

Short of a bureaucratic snafu, which is always possible, Australian convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby will be released on parole from Indonesia’s Kerobokan prison within days. She's breaking new ground.
Parole is relatively uncommon in Indonesia, primarily because parolees have to be accepted back into the community in which they intend to reside. Many communities have been unwilling to accept convicted criminals, but Corby’s sister Mercedes and Balinese brother-in-law, Wayan Widyartha, appear to have secured support from their local community in central Kuta.
Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin has said Corby will not receive any special consideration for or against as he considers some 1700 applications for parole over the next few days. She will, he says, be treated as would any other prisoner.
Corby has refused to acknowledge guilt over smuggling marijuana into Indonesia, which has been a significant factor in ensuring that she did not have her prison sentence fully commuted. However, this should not be a factor in whether or not she is paroled.
This is a positive sign for Corby, as there have been cases in the past where judicial decisions have been influenced by political considerations. Clearly, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does not consider Corby’s potential parole as a political issue, although he is attempting to put forward a candidate in this year’s presidential election in July, and despite the damaged state of Australia-Indonesia relations.
It shows, too, that the Indonesian judicial process is, or appears to be, operating in a straight and transparent manner, at least at the top. This has sometimes not been the case in the past.
As for Corby, assuming all goes according to plan, she will live with her sister and brother-in-law. She will be free to stay elsewhere in Indonesia, so long as she informs the local police of her intended whereabouts.
The catch, such as it is, is that she cannot leave Indonesia until her sentence is completed in 2016. She must also stay in Indonesia for a further year to assure Indonesian authorities that her parole has proven she is of reformed character.
On the scale of hardships, however, and especially after eight years in an Indonesian prison, living in Bali for the next three years should be relatively comfortable. This will be especially so if she is able to moderate any comments she might make to an enthusiastic media. Getting the local community offside with injudicious observations would be the last thing she would want over the coming months and years.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment that Corby will have to make is simply that of coming to terms with her prison experience. There have been indications, at different times, that she has been psychologically troubled by the experience.
More positively, that time will have ensured that Corby is at least familiar with the wider cultural mores of Indonesia generally and of Bali in particular. One would expect, too, after such time, she would have learned some Indonesian, which, although far from necessary in much of Bali, is always more rather than less helpful.
After her experience in prison, Corby’s next biggest challenge will be how she handles intense media attention. If she is able to secure a financially lucrative media deal, such as for an exclusive interview, she would be wise to be discreet about being rewarded, in effect, for her conviction for breaking the law.
Beyond that, we should not read into this parole any potential leniency for the so-called Bali Nine. They are still in very deep trouble.

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