Indonesia: ‘Reprehensible’ executions show complete disregard for human rights safeguards

Photo: Workers bury Indonesian Zainal Abidin, one of the eight death-row prisoners who were executed, at a cemetary in Cilacap, Indonesia, 29 April 2015. © EPA

The execution of eight people in Indonesia today shows complete disregard for due process and human rights safeguards, Amnesty International said. The organization also called for any plans to carry out further executions to be scrapped.

Eight people, including Indonesian and foreign nationals, were today put to death by firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, off Java. All of them had been convicted of drug trafficking. The execution of a Filipina national, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, was halted at the last minute by President Widodo

“These executions are utterly reprehensible– they were carried out with complete disregard for internationally recognized safeguards on the use of the death penalty,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“President Joko Widodo should immediately abandon plans to carry out further executions and impose a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards abolition.”

There were at least two ongoing legal appeals from the death row prisoners which had been accepted by the courts. The clemency petitions of all eight prisoners had been summarily considered and rejected, undermining their right to appeal for pardon or commutation of their sentence as provided for under international law.

Fourteen people have now been put to death in Indonesia in 2015, and the government has announced plans for further executions this year.

“The death penalty is always a human rights violation, but there are a number of factors that make today’s executions even more distressing. Some of the prisoners were reportedly not provided access to competent lawyers or interpreters during their arrest and initial trial, in violation of their right to a fair trial which is recognized under international and national law,” said Rupert Abbott.

“One of those executed today, Rodrigo Gularte, had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and international law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against those with mental disabilities. It’s also troubling that people convicted of drug trafficking have been executed, even though this does not meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’ for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law.”


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 of the right to life is also recognized in Indonesia’s Constitution. So far, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

There is no compelling evidence that the death penalty prevents crime more effectively than other punishments. A comprehensive study carried out by the United Nations on the relationship between the death penalty and homicide rates concluded that research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment.

The eight individuals executed today are Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (both Australian, males), Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigerian, male. Also known as Jamiu Owolabi Abashin), Zainal Abidin (Indonesian, male), Martin Anderson alias Belo (Ghanaian, male), Rodrigo Gularte (Brazilian, male), Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise (Nigerian, male) and Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigerian, male).