The impending executions in Indonesia have received almost unprecedented global publicity and widespread condemnation and appeals for mercy from many quarters, including the United Nations, European Union and various global celebrities
There seem to be weaknesses in several of the cases and the trials. The two Australians, who were clearly guilty, have received the most publicity but the case against a young Filipina, Mary Jane Velosa, seems to be the saddest.
It is very hard to find justification to execute her. She was arrested in 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia, concealed in the lining of a suitcase she was carrying. There is no dispute that the drugs were found in her case. She claimed she did not know the drugs were there, which is a fairly predictable answer, but just might be true. Some prominent legal experts feel there is a strong case for saying she is a victim of human trafficking under Indonesia’s laws governing this practice.
It seems her trial fell below what would be considered reasonable international standards. She only had a public defender helping her and no one who could speak her native language, Tagalog. It was never proven that she knew the drugs were in the suitcase.
She was only 25 when arrested, comes from a poor family and has two children, now aged 12 and 6. She apparently had minimal education, only completing the first grade of secondary school. She was married at 16. It appears she was offered a maid’s job in Kuala Lumpur, having worked as a maid in Dubai. When she got to KL, the job transpired not to exist. She was then recruited by a drug syndicate to carry the drugs into Indonesia.
She was, of course, dispensable for the drug syndicate, and apparently none of them were arrested.
It is very hard for most educated people to understand how killing her can help the war on drugs. There is plenty of evidence to show executing low level drug couriers has minimal impact for the simple reason that it is so easy to replace them. Death and the drug trade tend to go hand in hand, even ignoring judicial killings. Mexico is an extreme example of this fact.
There is speculation that the Indonesian President is trying to satisfy a domestic electorate, who are concerned about a growing drug problem and who have been less than impressed with his performance since he was elected last year. However, given the widespread negative publicity he is receiving by rejecting calls for clemency, he might be wise to think more about the international impact on Indonesia
It is perhaps even more surprising that he recently commuted the death sentence of a man convicted of the premeditated murder of a shopkeeper and his teenage son. It is hard to understand how he could feel Mary Jane’s case is less deserving than that of cold blooded murderer.
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