Amongst the next group waiting to be shot is at least one person who, in all probability, is innocent!
It is quite apparent to all reasonable minds, not tainted by political advantage or corruption that the justice system in Indonesia can easily amount to total injustice. Against the backlash from the UN down to individual nations the Indonesian government, and its president particularly, love to jump up and down claiming that it is the right of their national sovereignty to run their justice system as they see fit. Human rights run a distant second to the expediencies of political power and wealth. Those who convert to Islam and/or pay hefty bribes are likely to fare much better in the Indonesian legal system, regardless of guilt or innocence, than those who don’t or can’t.
The case of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran as the only two of the famous Bali 9 to be sentenced to death is well known. It is obvious that they were guilty but it is also obvious that they have made a complete reformation and now have a positive impact on other prisoners and on the fight against drug use. Their value as an inspiration to the Indonesian prison system has been totally lost by that government in its politically expedient attempt to take a blinkered approach to carrying out the death penalty.
However, the fate of these two is not the worst example of Indonesian injustice. At least their guilt by their own admission was established. There are others on death row likely to be executed with them whose stories barely rate a mention. Amongst these is the Filipino maid, Mary Jane Veloso.
This young woman, who was trying to assist her impoverished family by working as a maid overseas, travelled to Malaysia, on the advice of someone she knew, for a job. On arrival this person, Cristina, told her that the job was gone but that there was another one in Indonesia and that she would travel with her. Cristina bought Mary Jane new clothes and a new set of luggage. On their arrival in Jogjakarta Mary Jane was stopped and Cristina disappeared.
Mary Jane Veloso was convicted for smuggling 2.6 kg of heroin wrapped in silver foil. She has consistently maintained her innocence stating that she was tricked by Cristina.
Having lived a number of years in the Philippines myself, and having employed a number of maids, I think I understand their mind set. Only dishonest maids would ever think to check luggage given to them by their employer, friend or benefactor (for the purpose of theft). An honest maid or helper, as they are called in the Philippines would never check luggage under such circumstances. I can easily believe Mary Jane’s claim that she did not know that the luggage she was carrying contained illegal drugs.
However, her case before the Indonesian courts demonstrates their apparent fondness for corruption and respect for power and wealth. Whereas it has taken almost ten years for the case of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to lead from arrest to imminent execution Mary Jane Veloso’s case only took five. Chan and Sukumaran’s recent legal appeals took at least a matter of weeks to be heard and denied. Mary Jane’s last ditch appeal was denied after only five days. Innocence or guilt is less important than appearances, “saving face” and protection of a system that is rotten to the core.
Corruption, love of power and denial of human rights exist everywhere, including in OECD countries. Yet in third world nations they are extremely obvious. Indonesia is prepared to have its entire legal system rated as a corrupt, inept joke for the sake of political expediency.
It appears that as of 24 April, the date has almost been set for these executions regardless of the myriad of reasons that they should not occur. In the present situation, ultimately the blame must fall on the Indonesian president, Jocko Wododo. It seems that he is prepared to sacrifice all natural respect for political expediency and to play the power game to his best advantage. Since he is not an idiot he must know the levels of corruption that apply to his country’s “justice” system but rather than tackle the issue head on is content to play the usual game, despite the blood on his hands. If his presidency is a prime example of Indonesia’s new democracy Heaven help the nation!
Australian 60 minutes
image of Mary Jane Veloso
Source: Manila Standard Today, March 30, 2015