The Indonesian government’s apparent plans to execute five people by the end of the year must be halted immediately, Amnesty International said today. The organization urged the government to impose a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.
Local media reports indicate that the five death row prisoners have now been moved into isolation, as preparations for their executions begin.
Indonesia’s Junior Attorney General for General Crimes, Basyuni Masyarif, last week confirmed that the government is planning to execute five people before the end of the year.
“The government must immediately halt plans to carry out executions. Given President Joko Widodo’s campaign commitments to improve respect for human rights, resorting to the death penalty would be a serious stain on the early human rights record of his administration,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“Tackling serious crime is a legitimate objective for the new administration, but this is the wrong way to go about it – the death penalty does not work as a deterrent to crime.”
“Any executions will also certainly undermine the government’s efforts to protect Indonesian nationals on death row overseas.”
According to reports, one of the five individuals facing imminent execution is detained in Tangerang, Banten province, another two in Batam, Riau Islands Province, and a further two in Nusakambangan, Central Java. The two from Nusakambangan have reportedly been convicted for murder and the three others for drug-related crimes.
Vice-President Jusuf Kalla further indicated on 3 December that the President will not grant clemency to anyone sentenced to death for drug-related crimes.
However, a blanket denial of all clemency applications for drug convicts on death row is clearly contrary to the internationally recognized right of all death row prisoners to apply for a pardon or commutation.
On 4 December, Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, Minister for Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs, told local media that another 20 death row inmates would be executed in 2015, the majority of whom have been convicted for drug-related offences.
“It is deeply disturbing that drug convicts are at risk of execution. Drug-related offences do not match the standards set out in international law, which only allow the death penalty for the ‘most serious crimes’. The authorities should instead reduce the scope of the death penalty as a step towards abolition,” said Rupert Abbott.
Indonesia resumed executions in 2013, putting five people to death, after a four-year suspension in the implementation of the death penalty. No executions have so far been carried out in 2014.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty as a violation of the right to life, as recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The organization opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.
As of today, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes in law or practice. Amnesty International is calling on the Indonesian authorities to follow this worldwide trend and establish an official moratorium on all executions and commute all death sentences as steps towards abolition of the death penalty.