COMM11108 BLOG #2

Published on Wednesday 10th August 2016

The Death Penalty in Indonesia


Figure One: The Death Penalty, Source: Google Images

In recent years, the death penalty has been subject to public debate as to whether world governments should abolish the death penalty and the cruel acts associated with ending a human beings life, or whether particular governments should continue with capital punishment (Winston 2002). For this reasoning, capital punishment is still recognised as a current political issue and a heated debate within today’s political agenda (Britto & Noga-Styron 2015).

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, capital punishment has been abolished in every Australian jurisdiction (Australian Human Rights Commission 2006). However, capital punishment still remains on the political agenda in countries like North Korea, Indonesia, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who still practice capital punishment for those individuals who commit illegal offenses (Maguire & Houghton 2016).

In April 2015, the Australian public was following the chilling case in the media involving two Australian citizens, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were facing execution for drug trafficking in Indonesia. The way that the media framed this case had a negative impact on the way in which the Australian public viewed and responded to this unfolding situation. In the case of the media’s reporting, Chan and Sukumaran were marginalised in the light of the media’s agenda setting. Consequently, allowing the general population to only see the negative case of these individuals.


Figure Two: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Source: Google Images

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop stressed Australia’s opposition to the death penalty to the Indonesian government (Maguire & Houghton 2016). Ms Bishop was reported as having sent a letter to the Indonesian Government with an application of clemency for Chan and Sukumaran (Maguire & Houghton 2016). According to Johnson (2015) Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo rejected Bishops requests for clemency, commenting that Chan and Sukumaran have broken the laws and regulations of the Indonesian Government therefore, proclaiming that they should receive the punishment for their crimes based on Indonesia’s laws and regulations.

Indonesia’s current drug laws strictly and clearly outlines the utilisation of the death penalty for narcotics trafficking and up to 20 years imprisonment for marijuana offenses (Johnson 2015). Furthermore, Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi articulates that ‘the Indonesian government will remain firm on its right to impose harsh punishments for narcotic crimes due to the country’s widespread continuing problem of narcotic abuse’ (Johnson 2015, p. 1).

Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party Tanya Plibersek have expressed their opposition to the death penalty (Maguire & Houghton 2016). Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek have condemned the death penalty as barbaric and further denounced the action as something that ‘diminishes us all’ (Maguire & Houghton 2016, p. 3). 

The below image represents the countries who have abolished the death penalty, those countries who have retained it for exceptional crimes, those who have abolished in practice and those countries who use it for ordinary crimes.

map-4 Figure Three: The Death Penalty, Source: Google Images

 According to a recent Morgan poll conducted in 2014 revealed that 52.5% of Australian citizens are in favour of the death penalty for those individuals who commit illegal offenses, while 47.5% of the Australian population opposed the death penalty (Abjorensen 2015). The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) indicated that this was a significant increase from a 2009 poll that showed that only 23% of Australians supported the death penalty being imposed for convicted offenses and criminals (Abjorensen 2015).

According to Maguire & Houghton (2016) the execution of Chan and Sukumaran has brought other government’s currently employed laws and regulations on capital punishment to the forefront of public consciousness within Australia.

It is evident from the Chan and Sukumaran case that capital punishment is still a contemporary human rights issue of modern society. The Australia media has framed the argument that this case has prompted governments for a renewed inquiry into the global practice of capital punishment and Australia’s current position on this worldwide political issue.

This video (below) that has been published by Sky News informs the public on the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran that occurred on 29th April 2015. The video also includes some of the current political stances and ideologies that are present on this worldwide political issue.


Reference List

Abjorensen, N 2015, ‘Death penalty: are we really united in our opposition?’, ABC News, 1 May, viewed 8 August 2016,

Britto, S, & Noga-Styron, KE 2015, ‘The belief that guns deter crime and support for capital punishment’, Criminal Justice Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 314-335.

Johnson, C 2015, Global legal monitor: death sentences carried out for narcotics crimes, 2 February, viewed 8 August 2016,

Maguire, A, & Houghton, S 2016, ‘The Bali Nine, Capital Punishment and Australia’s Obligation to Seek Abolition’, Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 67-91.

Maria Hernandez (poster) 2015, Bali 9 Execution: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran Face Final Hours, video, 28 April, viewed 7 August 2016,

Winston, M 2002, ‘The death penalty and the Forfeiture Thesis’, Journal of Human Rights, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 357-372.

Australian Human Rights Commission 2006, The death penalty in Australia, viewed 9 August 2016,

Image Reference List

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Figure Three: