Virgin founder and billionaire Sir Richard Branson has added his voice to global campaign against Indonesia’s planned execution of foreign drug smugglers, including two Australians, saying the punishment doesn’t do anything to reduce crime.
Branson is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which has written to Indonesian President Joko Widodo recommending clemency and requesting they visit to explain their position.
He told ABC News today that he was prepared to fly to Indonesia and put the case, along with other commissioners, who includes nine former national leaders and former US Fed chairman Paul Volcker.
“We would love to be able to show the Indonesian government how countries like Portugal and others have completely overcome their drug problem by taking a very, very different approach,” Branson said.
He said the Commission’s research had found that treating drugs as a health issue rather than a criminal issue did more to help reduce their impact on communities, including reductions in drug-related deaths and crimes as well as infection.
The Indonesian President has justified his tough stance as a response to a growing drug epidemic across the nation.
“We found that countries that still carry out executions for drug offences have not seen any significant shifts in supply and demand and the drug trade remains remarkably unaffected by the threat of capital punishment,” Branson said.
“If you use the death penalty that removes any chance of forgiveness for the remorseful.”
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are two of 10 foreign nationals awaiting execution on the prison island of Nusakambangan.
Branson rejected calls for a boycott on travel to Indonesia, where Virgin Australia operates a number of flights, including to Bali, where the nine Australians were originally arrested in 2005.
He said he wanted to give Widodo “a positive way forward for his country”.
“I don’t think threats are a good idea at this stage or at any stage,” the Virgin boss said.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic war of words between Australia and Indonesia took a new twist, with an outspoken Indonesian nationalist minister, Tedjo Edhy Purditjatno, pondering aloud “imagine if we let them all go to Australia” about potential 10,000 asylum seekers currently in his country.
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