Lets Talk About, This is Life

Lets Talk About – The Death Penalty

You will have no doubt heard by now that convicted Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad overnight in Indonesia.  Arrested in 2005 in Denpasar, along with 7 other young Australians for attempting to smuggle over 8kg of heroin from Indonesia to Australia, they have spent the last 10 years in prison, awaiting their fate.  They were the only two sentenced to death as they were ‘the ringleaders’ of the smuggling operation. Despite numerous appeals for clemency, by both their legal team and members of the Australian government, there was never much hope that the Indonesian government would repeal the sentence.

We as Australians find the concept of convicted felons being executed for their crimes very hard to comprehend.  NSW was the last state in Australia to abolish the death penalty in 1985 and Ronald Ryan was the last person to be executed anywhere in Australia in 1967. There are 37 countries that maintain the death penalty in both law and practice {SOURCE} Although some recent horrific crimes saw some people call for the reintroduction of the death penalty for serious crimes such as murder, rape and child abduction.  The cases of Anita Cobby and Danial Morcombe spring to mind.

Before I go any further I should say now that I have the deepest sympathy for the families of these two men.  I could not imagine what it must have been like for their families to say their final goodbyes.  But I’m not sure I have a lot of sympathy for these two men themselves.

You may think I am being very harsh and unjust taking this view.

But, the fact of the matter is they KNEW what they were doing – the drugs were strapped to their bodies.  When they made that decision they would have been well aware that Indonesian law allows for the execution of drug smugglers. They would have been well aware that fellow Australian Schapelle Corby was already languishing in Kerobokan Gaol following her arrest for smuggling cannabis into Indonesia.

In Australia, if you help administer a dose of heroin (or any drug to a person) and they die as a result of that you can be charged with Manslaughter – one of the proofs of which is – something that a reasonable and prudent person wouldn’t do.  Surely smuggling drugs is something that a reasonable and prudent person wouldn’t do.

Why do I not have much sympathy for drug smugglers and drug dealers?  Because I know first hand the damage that drugs do to hundreds of Australian families every single year.  I know this because our family has experienced this first hand.  A close family member died in 1997 of a drug overdose.  She battled heroin addiction for 5 long years.  I was there for the last 8 months of that battle and believe me when I say she and her family tried everything.  Hospitalisation, counselling, medication, trips to a psychiatric hospital, a court appearance, a serious car accident, watching her mothers never ending battle to get her girl well again but nothing worked.  In the end it was an overdose of prescription narcotics that took her life, not the heroin that her body craved everyday.  To watch a beautiful and loving sole turn into a desperate junkie who would sell her sole for the next fix was devastating to watch and ultimately I believe what sent her mother to an early grave.

Heroin use is still widespread in Australia.
Heroin use is still widespread in Australia. {IMAGE CREDIT}

 

I lived very nearby at the time and was still in the Police Force at the time when a fellow officer came and got me.  I walked in the back door to see Ambulance officers desperately trying to revive her on the floor of the hallway.  I then had the task of finding the other members of her immediate family and telling them.  Later I was the one who went to the hospital to formally identify her body, as there would be a Coroners Inquest into her death.

Yes, I know no one forced her into taking drugs, but perhaps if they weren’t so readily available, the temptation to try them might not have been there.  If one positive can come from these senseless deaths, let it be that the next young person to think they can make a quick buck by agreeing to smuggle drugs of any kind anywhere in the world, will think long and hard, before they make that choice.

According to statistics provided on International Overdose Awareness Day’s website:-

  • Nearly four Australians die every day from overdose.
  • Overdoses out-numbered road fatalities in Australia in 2012.
  • According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics overdose deaths totalled 1,427 in 2012, while road deaths, which have been steadily declining, ended the year at 1,338. (Data provided to Penington Institute by Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014).
  • Approximately 131 people died from heroin overdose in 2005 – the year the Bali 9 were arrested.

***If you or anyone you know is struggling with Drug Addiction you can contact

Narcotics Anonymous for support and assistance.***

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