Capital Punishment Indonesia: New Round of Executions Expected Soon
More and more signs indicate that Indonesia is about to have a new round of executions. Convicted Indonesian drug trafficker Merry Utami - who received the death sentence for carrying more than a kilogram of heroin - was moved from a women's prison in Tangerang (Banten province) to Nusa Kambangan Island (an offshore part of Central Java) this weekend. Nusa Kambangan Island is the spot where Indonesian authorities routinely carry out executions. Meanwhile, reportedly, the embassy of Nigeria was asked to visit four Nigerian prisoners at the Nusa Kambangan prison at the start of the week.
Since May 2016 there has been rising expectation that the Indonesian government will again execute a number of convicted drug smugglers (both Indonesian citizens and foreigners) after the government had put in place a temporary moratorium on executions in April 2015. This moratorium was primarily implemented for economic motives as the Indonesian government needed to enhance diplomatic relations to attract foreign investment and improve trade relations in a bid to boost the nation's economic growth.
However, prior to the start of the holy Islamic fasting month (Ramadan) - in June 2016 - Indonesian authorities indicated that another round of executions is back on the agenda although it remains unknown how many convicts are to be executed. Generally, prisoners are given up to three-days' notice of the imminent execution (usually conducted by firing squad).
In 2015 Indonesia executed 14 people, all convicted for drug trafficking. Twelve of these executed convicts were foreigners (from Australia, Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Malawi, and Vietnam) and therefore led to diplomatic tensions, especially between Indonesia and the governments of Australia, Brazil and the Netherlands. Although drug-related executions are generally rejected in western countries, there exists widespread support for these executions in Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Therefore, there could in fact be political motives behind Indonesian President Joko Widodo's decision to resume executions shortly after his inauguration as Indonesia's seventh president. Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2014) spoke out against the death penalty and put in place a de facto moratorium on executions between 2008 and 2013 (influenced by rising international pressure). Widodo, however, moved away from this policy, a move likened by Indonesian people as it showed he can resist foreign pressures.
According to America-based ABC News, four Nigerian prisoners (Eugene Ape, Humprey Ejike, Michael Titus Igweh and Obinna Nwajagu) and one Pakistani prisoner are to be executed soon. One month ago Indonesian Attorney General HM Prasetyo said Indonesia targets to execute 18 drug convicts in 2016, followed by another 30 in 2017. According to data from Amnesty International, there are at least 165 people currently on death row in Indonesia (mostly for drug-related crimes).
Meanwhile, Indonesian human rights group Imparsial requests the Indonesian government to scrap imminent executions on grounds that there is no proven link between executions and a decrease of drug-related crimes in Indonesian society. Moreover, there are flaws in Indonesia's justice/legal system that can lead to the execution of innocent people. For example, allegedly, Pakistani citizen Zulfiqar Ali - who is on death row in Indonesia - was violently beaten by Indonesian police officers in order to 'encourage' a confession. There are also reports that foreign prisoners are often denied an interpreter or lack access to consular services.
Should the Indonesian government scrap the death penalty?
Voting possible: -
- Yes, Indonesia should remove capital punishment altogether (69.7%)
- No, I agree with the death penalty (16.3%)
- Indonesia should keep the death penalty but not for drug trafficking (11.4%)
- I don't know (2.6%)
Total amount of votes: 307
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