Jokowi’s 3rd Capital Punishment: an Archaic Approach to a Modern Problem

Dark clouds loom over Cilacap’s skyline, as rain pours down followed by shouts of lightnings and heavy wind, accompanying the execution of 14 drugs offenders. The third drugs related execution, administered by president Jokowi’s government.

Using the justice system as an extenuation for taking somebody’s life. Not of those who are innocent of course, but life nevertheless.

It is hard to justify or to argue against capital punishment, as easy as it may seem. It is indeed compelling to argue that capital punishment should serve as a deterrent, and taking it away may increase the possibility of other offenses. Especially when such punishment has already been administered, and then suddenly taken away, wouldn’t it just increase offenses?

On the other hand, whose to say that we are able to justify the worth of somebody’s life. That undesired behavior, no matter how cruel or bad it is, serves as a permission for us to eliminate their existence. Anyway, whose to say that capital punishment is an effective deterrent at the first place?

death penalty

These arguments has gone on and on for the past years. Despite of the facts and statistics that has sided with the latter question, many societies remain stubbornly convinced, that capital punishment is effective.

Admittedly, it is hard not to justify execution, because to relate with somebody who has knowingly break the law and sympathies with them, who may or may not continue their crime if they weren’t caught, is indeed difficult.

“50 person dies every day in Indonesia, as a result of drugs abuse.”

That particular statistic was used by President Jokowi, back in 2015 to reiterate the magnitude of drug problems that Indonesia is facing. And of course the society backs him, holding on to the beliefs that capital punishment serves as deterrent, believing that drug offenders are inherently evil and shielding themselves under the law that supports execution.

The problem, however is more complicated than that. Because if battling drugs is used as a permission to take somebody’s life, then what will the death of 14 people, or even 50 people bring to the fight? Because evidently, if deterrent is what we’re looking at, then why does the problem still persist at the first place?

It is indeed hard for me to understand the effectiveness of executing dozens of drug offenders (most of them, by the way, are not dealers or producers) when there are 3,1 Million drugs consumers in Indonesia.

Fredi Budiman, one of the convicts, spoke to KontraS (The Comission for the “Disappeared and Victims of Violence) before his execution and question the justice behind his execution. Despite of the fact that he supplies a lot of drugs, and remain to do so while he was behind bars, his inquiry has its own validity.

He asked, “If we are being completely fair, then why is it that only me and the truck driver that is being executed.” Furtherly, he claims that drugs related crime in Indonesia is a systematic crime, and that there are deep involvement within the government institution, namely the BNN (The National Drugs Comission) and Bea Cukai (Customs).

Similar tones was also spoken by El Chappo Guzman, a Mexican drug cartel, during his controversial interview with Sean Penn while he was on the run, talking about the drugs industry in Mexico and U.S.

Their question is not entirely wrong, as a matter of fact, it should be the question that we are asking as a society. Because like it or not, the life of those who are executed are also on our hands. By not demanding for the law to be altered, by not asking enough questions about its effectiveness, we are involved with the execution.

If battling drugs is our excuse, then we mustn’t rely on a crocodiles guided prison and capital punishment alone. If the problem is indeed systematic, then we should approach it systematically. Because while we keep on executing life. The system remain unchanged, corrupt, the demand still persist and the problem may persevere. Of course we can’t take their words for granted, but such investigation and a more systematical solutions along with a comprehensive prevention measures are surely dire.

It is really hard for me to accept that there are no other way than execution. It can’t be. Especially when the chances of executing innocent people are significantly presence.

We can’t just keep hiding behind the law, because the law is not always right and absolute. And if there’s anything that we can learn about our society lately, is that these laws that governs us is malleable, especially for our humanity. We saw changes that allows equal voting, protect minorities and put aside any other agendas and beliefs in the name of love and humanity. So why is it? That this cruel “solution” is still taken for granted?

“Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty.” – H.F.



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