Two men, one from Britain and one from Australia have been arrested on the Indonesian island of Bali for possession of methamphetamine and ecstasy, police say.
- The Australian suspect is alleged to have been carrying 1.2 grams of methamphetamine
- Indonesian police allege he was a drug “courier” for the British suspect
- A number of Australians have been arrested in Indonesia in the last two decades over drug offences
Collum Park from Britain was arrested on Tuesday night with 11.8 grams of methamphetamine and 15 ecstasy pills, Denpasar police chief Jansen Panjaitan said in a statement. Denpasar is Bali’s capital.
Mr Park has been in Bali since 2019, he said.
Police allege, Aaron Wayne Coyle, an Australian who has been in Bali since early 2020, had 1.2 grams of methamphetamine on his person at the time of arrest.
“We suspect that the Briton is the drug dealer and distributor, while the Australian is the courier,” Mr Panjaitan said.
Both men are being held by Denpasar police for further investigation.
They are being charged under an article of the narcotics law which provides a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine.
Region home to world’s harshest drug penalties
Many countries in South-East Asia have some of the globe’s harshest anti-drug policies, where convicted traffickers are often executed by a firing squad, while in Singapore convicted drug traffickers continue to be hanged.
For those convicted for personal drug possession, sentences can mean years of jail time.
Out of 14 countries identified as actively applying the death penalty for drug crimes by watchdog Harm Reduction International (HRI), nearly half are in South-East Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Despite the region’s hard-line approach, a July 2019 report by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that South-East Asia was producing methamphetamine in “quantities unimaginable a decade ago” — much of which is making its way to Australian shores.
The report found the illicit methamphetamine market of South-East Asia and its neighbours in East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh, was worth between $US30.3 and $US61.4 billion ($44.5–$90 billion).
The Philippines, under President Rodrigo Duterte has garnered global attention for his bloody ‘war on drugs’, which has resulted in thousands of alleged extra-judicial killings by police and armed vigilantes, while prison populations have swelled.
A UN Human Rights Council report released in June found Mr Duterte’s policies has lead to a “culture of impunity”, with thousands of people slaughtered under the drug purge.
In nearby Indonesia, the country has also raised eyebrows with President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo — generally presented as a moderate — who has been an enthusiastic advocate of the death penalty for drug-related crimes.
It was under his watch that Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were killed by firing squad in 2015.
Several other Australians convicted of drug offences in the country have served significant jail time, including Schapelle Corby, who was sentenced to 20 years jail for cannabis importation in 2005.
Presently, more than 150 people are on death row in Indonesia, mostly for drug crimes, and about a third of them are foreigners.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has been approached by ABC for comment.