Indonesia: First executions under new president retrograde step for rights

The execution of six drug traffickers in Indonesia today, the first since President Joko Widodo took office, is a retrograde step for human rights in the country, Amnesty International said.

Those executed by firing squad today included one Indonesian and five foreign nationals. All had been convicted on drug trafficking charges.

“This is a seriously regressive move and a very sad day. The new administration has taken office on the back of promises to make human rights a priority, but the execution of six people flies in the face of these commitments,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

While no executions were carried out in Indonesia in 2014, the new government has since it took office in November 2014 announced that 20 are scheduled for this year.

In December 2014, it was also reported that President Joko Widodo would not grant clemency to at least 64 individuals who have been sentenced to death for drug-related crimes and that there were plans to execute them.

“The government must immediately halt plans to put more people to death. This is a country that just a few years ago had taken positive steps to move away from the death penalty, but the authorities are now steering the country in the opposite direction,” said Rupert Abbott.

“The use of the death penalty at home also makes the Indonesian authorities’ efforts to fight it being applied to Indonesians abroad look hypocritical. Indonesia must impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.”


The six people executed today include one Indonesian, Rani Andriani alias Melisa Aprilia; and five foreign nationals: Daniel Enemuo (Nigerian), Ang Kim Soei (Dutch), Tran Thi Bich Hanh (Vietnamese), Namaona Denis (Nigerian) and Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira (Brazilian).

Five of them were executed on Nusakambangan Island, Central Java province, while Tran Thi Bich Hanh was executed in Boyolali district, also in Central Java.

Various groups in Indonesia spoke out publicly against the death penalty in the last week including the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the National Commission on Violence against Women, religious organizations, parliamentarians and civil society groups.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The protection for the right to life is also recognized in Indonesia’s Constitution. So far 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.