Time for us to remove the blindfold when it comes to the death penalty for drug crimes

The Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) the national organisation representing people who use or have used illicit drugs condemn in the strongest possible terms the execution by the Indonesian Government overnight of eight people sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug offences including two Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

A spokesperson for AIVL stated that “We wish to express our deepest condolences and respect to the families and friends of all of the individuals who had their lives brutally cut short under the cover of darkness and in the middle of the night last night. It is impossible for us to comprehend the pain and suffering these families and friends are experiencing but we stand nevertheless in solidarity with them at this dreadful time.”

As an organisation representing people who use or have used illicit drugs AIVL abhors the use of the death penalty for any reason including for drug offences. The actions of the Indonesian Government over night are utterly inhumane and amount to nothing less than state sanctioned murder. The use of the death penalty simply has no place in a modern democratic society.

Every life has inherent value and is precious. AIVL calls on the Australian public to reject the ‘War on Drugs’ rhetoric being used by the Indonesian Government in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable. The ‘War on Drugs’ approach is increasingly being discredited as ineffective and labelled at the highest levels as a total failure. Despite the rhetoric, there is no credible evidence to show that the use of the death penalty acts as an effective deterrent for drug offences. Indeed, evidence to the contrary is all around us.

The use of the death penalty in the name of the ‘War on Drugs’ unfortunately is not unique with at least 33 nations retaining the death penalty for drug offences according to Harm Reduction International. “For this reason it is important that the sense of community solidarity and outrage about the deaths of the eight people last night is not seen as the end of the issue” the AIVL spokesperson highlighted. While AIVL welcomes the actions of the Australian Government in recalling Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia and the cessation of ministerial relations, we must do everything within our power to prevent any further deaths through the application of the death penalty and/or in name of the ‘War on Drugs’.”

AIVL believes it is critical that the Australian public is aware of the direct role taken by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in providing intelligence to and co-operating with the Indonesian authorities to secure the arrest and convictions of the nine Australians (including Andrew Chan & Myuran Sukumaran and seven other young people) in 2005 in Bali. “While there has subsequently been some changes to policy and legislation in Australia to hopefully prevent this ever being able to occur again, AIVL remains concerned that the AFP have not yet been fully held to account for their role in this disgraceful episode in our collective history – they have blood on their hands!

Media Contact: Annie Madden, AIVL Executive Officer on ph: (02) 6279 1600 on mobile: 0414628136.