On 22nd January, Lindsay Sandiford (a British woman aged 56) was sentenced to death for drug trafficking offences. Fortunately, this is not another provision in LASPO that has been brought into force in England and Wales, but a court in Indonesia.
In theory, Ms Sandiford will be executed by firing squad. In practice, it is likely that there will be some very heavy diplomatic intervention to commute the sentence (if there is not a successful appeal). In any event, there have been no executions since 2008 and none for a woman for drugs offending since 2004 (and that was unusual).
The offence was a serious one. In England, for importation of 4.8kg of cocaine, the probable starting point after a trial would be about 11 years. Far, far short of the ultimate sentence however (and not that dissimilar to the 15 years recommended by the Prosecution in Indonesia – although I do not know who parole etc works there).
Given my view, previously stated, on whole life tariffs, it will not be a surprise that I am opposed to the death penalty. It is, I believe, wrong for the ‘ultimate’ offence – murder, and is all the more wrong for anything lesser than that.
We must always be careful about criticising the legal systems of foreign countries just because they don’t tally with out views. However, we should not feel constrained about never criticising either. The morality and efficacy of the death penalty does not depend on the country or the legal systems and safeguards in place.