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Indonesian President Cracking Down on Drug Traffickers with Death Penalty

Serge Atlaoui, a citizen of France, has had his death sentence upheld in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Administrative Court rejected Atlaoui’s appeal today against the death penalty that was imposed on him in 2007 after his life sentence given to him in 2005 was amended by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

So far, Atlaoui has been detained in Indonesia for ten years after he was arrested in Tangerang, a city close to the capital of Jakarta, in an illegal laboratory for making ecstasy. However, Atlauoi, a father of four, maintains that he believed the factory was used to manufacture acrylic.

Despite efforts from the French government to overturn Atlaoui’s conviction, Indonesian President Joko Widodo is taking a hardline with this case, refusing to pardon Atlaoui in January of 2015 as he tries to set an example of Atlaoui in terms of demonstrating how hardline he is towards drugs. For this reason, no matter the nationalist, those on death row would not be pardoned if they had been convicted for drug trafficking.

Indonesia only resumed its policy of executing prisoners in 2013 after a four-year hiatus. So far in 2015 alone, fourteen have been executed for drug trafficking, of which twelve were foreigners. Eight of these were executed on April 29th of this year – three Nigerians, two Australians, one Ghanaian, one Brazilian and one Indonesian. Meanwhile, 134 other inmates in Indonesia await execution, and 71 of these are awaiting execution as a result of drug trafficking or breaking other drug laws.

For now, Atlaoui is safe due to it currently being Ramadan, but it is uncertain of whether or not the death sentence will be upheld.

Is Indonesia’s death sentence for drug trafficking crazy though? Drug trafficking is a huge problem in Indonesia and with a history of past government officials like President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono bowing to international pressures to release foreign drug traffickers, it is obvious that the new president, Widodo is really trying to step up to make a change in his country.

Although the specifics to the Atlaoui case are a little up in the air, with previous cases this year including the case of two Australians who admitted to trying to smuggle 18.5 pounds of heroin and were reportedly, leaders of the Bali Nine Drug Smuggling Ring, they were guilty. With a crime like drug trafficking, people are aware that what they are doing is wrong. In fact, with shows like National Geographic’s Locked Up Abroad, I feel as if it is obvious that trying to smuggle drugs is just generally a bad idea.

Should country’s be allowed to uphold their own sentences? I think so. Especially when it is something like this. Obviously the majority of people drug trafficking in Indonesia are foreigners, they actively decided to go to another country and smuggle drugs out or into it to make a quick buck.

But whose problem is it really? Well, for Indonesia, it is their problem. As of 2014, Indonesia is in a national drug state of emergency which is why the president is cracking down so hard on drug trafficking. With a country of 4.2 million drug addicts, and only 22,000 rehabilitation beds, they are totally unprepared for dealing with the epidemic of addiction that they are currently suffering. Meanwhile, tourists eagerly feed the need for drugs by buying cocaine and other drugs in Bali and in other vacation hot spots to party with and to bring home to addicts in their own countries. All in all, it makes sense that the president is cracking down on drug trafficking, with drug trafficking comes addiction and violence, and it must be dealt with severely at the source, which is what he is trying to do and frankly.

About Emily Hersey

Emily is an African Studies and History student who loves reading, the gym, hip hop and horses. If she's not working on her latest research project, she's definitely working towards her next trip to South Africa and doing her Master's degree there. Contact Emily: [email protected]