19 November 2012

Drug traffickers handed over to Indonesia

ETLJB 19 November 2012 - The National Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) has handed over the drug trafficking case, involving four Indonesian nationals to Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency for legal proceedings according to the National Police (PNTL) Deputy Commander Afonso de Jesus.

An article published in Suara Timor Lorosae reported on 15 November 2012 that Commander de Jesus said that four of the suspects are from Indonesia and one is from Africa.

"It does not mean that our law is week to process these people but this case has been under the control of international organisations and it has therefore been handed over to the Indonesian authorities," said.de Jesus

These five foreign nationals were arrested at the Dili airport after trying to smuggle drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia, passing through Timor-Leste and Indonesia's land border.

The explanation by Deputy Commander Afonso de Jesus does not make any legal sense at all. This case raises some serious questions. Firstly, the alleged crime of drug trafficking was committed in East Timor. No crime has been committed in Indonesia so there is no jurisdictional power in the Indonesian authorities to prosecute the case. It is most peculiar that the matter has been handed over to the Indonesian authorities. It amounts to an abdication by the East Timor criminal authorities to prosecute a crime committed within the territory of East Timor which would be the ordinary due process of the law.

Secondly, the East Timorese Constitution prohibits the death penalty. Article 29 (The Right to Life) includes clause (3) that provides that: There shall be no death penalty in the Democratic Republic of East Timor. By handing over the suspects to the Indonesian authorities, East Timor has exposed those suspects to the death penalty which may be applied in drug trafficking cases in Indonesia in violation of the principle of the right to life enshrined in the Constitution of East Timor.

Therefore, in the opinion of ETLJB, the actions of the East Timorese authorities raise critical legal questions involving the rule of law and the Constitution.

Perhaps there was a request from the Indonesian authorities to the government of East Timor to hand over the suspects or perhaps the government of East Timor requested the Indonesian authorities to take custody of the suspects and process them under Indonesian law. In either event, those interventions would be a wrongful political interference in the rule of law.

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