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Whose Right Is It Anyway?

When I have kids, if they do something wrong my husband or I will punish them. It doesn’t matter if they do something wrong at home or away from home. We will be the only people to lay down the law and hand out justice. I don’t think this is a strange thing to declare and I believe that many parents feel the same way I do. I and I alone am responsible for my child’s actions as long as they remain a child. Sometimes, even after. It is my responsibility to raise proper children and when punishments are due, to hand them out swiftly in the way I see fit. No other parent should think it their duty, responsibility, or even right to hand out punishment to my child. If there is a problem, tell me and I will deal with it.

If you are reading this and agree with it then I wonder why on earth we let another country discipline our citizens. We consistently relinquish our own people to the hands of others. Every country is responsible, at some time or another, for thinking it is their right to serve justice on nothing more than a tin tray of bread and water. But why?

The recent media around the Bali Nine drug ring, which eventually lead to the execution of eight men where only one was Indonesian, was a devastating blow to the family members of the four Nigerians, two Australians and a Brazilian, all of whom were executed by firing squad. There is no doubt in my mind that these men deserve punishment for their acts but was it the right of the Indonesian Government to administer justice? Was there not a better, more unbiased way to go about administering punishment?

Failed attempts from the Australian and Brazilian Governments to have their citizens returned to them and the many stories of corruption among the Indonesian courts makes me wonder why, in this global economy, this world, we do not have a system in place for cases such as this. If my kid hits your kid, I don’t expect you to then punish my kid. I expect you to tell me to come get my kid and I’ll deal with it and I know I’m not alone in this feeling.

If a country feels so strongly about a crime to have the death penalty, chances are many other countries feel the action is also a crime regardless of how severe. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and there are certain countries where individual laws vary drastically but I am of the belief that people know the difference between right and wrong regardless of whether or not they act on it.

In the case of the Bali Nine, drug smuggling, dealing and everything in between is a serious offence, and for good reason. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has previously defended his tough stance by saying that 4.5 million Indonesians use illicit drugs, with 40-50 young people dying from drug-related issues every day. However, is the death penalty the right decision? Or rather, does any country have the right to sentence to death the citizens of another country regardless of offense or crime? This is not a stance for or against the death penalty but rather a question of who has the right to administer such a penalty? The harshest penalty for any drug offense in Australia is life in prison or $550,000. (Drug Lawyer Australia). This may not seem fair to many or maybe it seems just right but as Australian citizens is it not the right of Australia to decide how their citizens be punished? What was so hard about extraditing the accused to their respective countries and banning them from ever entering the country again? I’ve heard many people stand up for this alternative and I agree. For me it goes back to the simple idea that no matter how bad the offence, I should be the only person allowed to punish my child. Of course these men were not children but I think the principle still applies.

I’m sure there are those who would disagree with me. Perhaps their feeling is that this would not serve as a strong enough deterrent to future offenders and there are those that state that their deaths prove to serve as a warning. They show a firm stance from the Indonesian Government of not tolerating drug offenders of any kind. So now we are using people’s lives to prove a point? How is that justice, especially when those administering said justice are shown to be corrupt and unwilling to cooperate? If, in a year from now, the Indonesian Government can show me a decline in drug users and drug related deaths as an effect of these executions then I’ll take it all back, but at this moment I cannot see the purpose in it all.

Everyone is accountable for their actions and needs to be held responsible for the things they do, but I’m firm in my beliefs that only the home country of the citizen should be the one allowed to administer justice. The only alternative I can see, to be fair, would be a third party court system for instances as these. I’m sure there are cases out there that might make me think twice or tweak my reasoning and I know that there are times I want justice the way I want it but I know it’s all emotion and passion and it doesn’t makes it right. After all…

“The law is reason free from passion” – Aristotle


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