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Indonesia losing ground in drug war

Publication Date : 09-02-2014


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is again under fire for going soft on drug convicts following the decision to parole Schapelle Corby.

The Australian would have been eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of her original sentence, in 2017, if not for a five-year sentence reduction granted by Yudhoyono in 2012 and for 30 months of remissions she received over the years.

The announcement of the parole came about two weeks after convicted French drug trafficker Michael Loic Blanc was released after he was granted parole in November.

Anti-Narcotics National Movement (Granat) chairman Henry Yosodiningrat said Indonesia was sending the wrong message to drug traffickers with Corby’s release.

“This kind of policy should be reviewed to deter other smugglers from entering Indonesia,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency on Saturday.

Henry said the President should be more sensitive, as he had previously promised to take stern action against drug smugglers. “The President once said there would be no tolerance for drug crimes and there would be no clemency for perpetrators.”

In a speech for the 2006 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Jakarta, Yudhoyono said: “A lot of requests for clemency in drug-related crimes have been submitted to me, but I personally feel that I would prefer to ensure the safety of our younger generation rather than grant pardons to those who are destroying our nation’s future.”

However, in recent few years, Yudhoyono has granted clemency to drug smugglers, including those on death row. In 2012, the President faced a public outcry for commuting the death sentence of drug convict Deni Setia Maharwan to life imprisonment.

Deni, who was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in 2000 for carrying 3.5 kilograms of heroin and 3 kilograms of cocaine, was sentenced to death by the Tangerang District Court in 2001.

 Amid the controversy, Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin said the President had only approved sentence reductions for 19 drug convicts and had rejected clemency requests from 109 drug convicts between 2004 and 2011.

Amir, who is also a senior Democratic Party (PD) politician, declined to disclose how many requests had been approved after Yudhoyono’s 2006 speech.

The Golkar Party’s Bambang Soesatyo also criticised the government. “The SBY administration has been compromised in its fight against global drug syndicates. This is insensitive to public concerns about the rampant circulation of illegal drugs in Indonesia.”

While presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha did not immediately respond to The Jakarta Post’s questions on Saturday, he previously said Corby’s parole should not be viewed as a political move, since each country had its own mechanism for giving parole or remissions.

Amir’s deputy, Denny Indrayana, said the decision had nothing to do with politics, amid speculation Jakarta was doing Australia a favor by releasing Corby after Australia extradited graft convict Adrian Kiki Ariawan.

“We granted parole because Corby has met the requirements,” Denny said. “Adrian Kiki was also a matter of legal process [there]. The extradition was not because the Australian government [said so], but because the high court said yes.”

“So this [Corby’s parole] is only a legal matter. Don’t link it to politics,” Denny added.


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