When Will They Learn?

It has not gone unreported here or abroad that a large number of foreigners have been arrested in Bali in recent years for drug offenses and many of them are languishing in our main Kerobokan prison, where some are on death row, awaiting a date with a firing squad.

Indeed, there are several international campaigns over the fate of the drug trafficker Schapelle Corby, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for bringing 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in 2004. Her vast numbers of supporters in Australia, the United States and elsewhere maintain the 34-year-old is innocent of the crime she was convicted of and that she was an unwitting mule for an international drug syndicate. We cannot speak to that; all we can go by are the rulings of our courts.

The stark point is that Bali continues to make international headlines over drug arrests of foreigners, in a country that applies the death penalty for serious drug crimes, and every foreigner entering the country is reminded of this in bold, red writing on immigration-entry cards they must fill out.

But still they come, with drugs sewn into suitcases, concealed in body cavities packed with capsules. It is surely proof that capital punishment is no deterrent whatsoever, and in our view should be abolished, for reasons of barbarity and the premise that no one has the right to take another’s life. When state-sanctioned killing occurs, it effectively renders the executioner – the country and its laws – a murderer.

The drug attempts are, meanwhile, growing bolder, as demonstrated by the arrest at Ngurah Rai International Airport on Monday of a Greek man, Nikolaos Bouikidis, allegedly carrying 4.2 kilos of methamphetamine worth Rp10.5 billion (US$1.2 million), in one of the biggest hauls ever on this island.

We are told the 36-year-old came on a flight from Doha via Singapore and that the drugs, which may have originated in Turkey, were found in the lining of a suitcase. How the bag escaped attention in Singapore, which harshly applies the death sentence in drug cases and employs sophisticated screening technology, is anyone’s guess.

Like in many other thriving tourism hotspots around the world, such as Ibiza, for example, there are drug problems here, as some people, it seems, want to take narcotics as they party. Our island has been damaged enough by this scourge, but all we can do is be ever-alert at our entry points and place suspects before the full force of the law, excluding the obsolete penalty of death.

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