Just after midnight in the early hours of Friday (29/07) Indonesia executed four people by firing squad - three Nigerians and one Indonesian convicted drug traffickers - on the remote Nusa Kambangan island (part of the province of Central Java). The government gave the green light for these executions, resisting fierce international criticism, as it remains committed to its "war on drugs". However, the fate of ten other inmates who were recently moved to Nusa Kambangan to face their imminent executions remains unknown.
On top of fierce criticism against Indonesia's stance on capital punishment for drug trafficking, criticism increased on Friday as those ten remaining inmates who were recently moved to Nusa Kambangan island to face the firing squad are seemingly left unknowing about the timing of their executions (generally prisoners are given up to three-days' notice of their execution).
Noor Rachmad, Indonesia's Deputy Attorney General, said authorities have not yet decided when to execute the remaining ten prisoners. Local media report that they "had a last-minute stay of execution". If there was indeed a delay then the cause of delay gives rise to speculation. It could be related to a major storm that plagued Nusa Kambangan island overnight but it could also be that Indonesian authorities need to recheck the legal aspects of these executions.
Reportedly, six of those on death row on Nusa Kambangan island are still in the process of appealing for clemency to Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. Clemency is their last available legal tool to stop the executions. However, there are conflicting reports whether such appeals are still being handled, have been completed, or whether the convicts decided not to use this tool.
Recently, the Indonesian government stated - with regard to the 14 drug traffickers who were moved to Nusa Kambangan Island - that all legal aspects and tools have been completed and therefore their executions can be conducted. Legal experts say that - based on an Indonesian law on clemency in 2002 - it would constitute a constitutional breach if these executions were conducted before their clemency appeals have been completed.
Executed Drug Traffickers on Indonesia's Nusa Kambangan Island on Friday 29 July 2016:
|Gajetan Acena Seck Osmane||Nigeria|
|Michael Titus Igweh||Nigeria|
The four executions this morning were the third round of executions in Indonesia under the leadership of President Widodo. Widodo, inaugurated as Indonesia's seventh president in late 2014, takes a tough stance on drug crimes in order to safeguard the health of the Indonesian population. Although the death penalty - especially for cases related to drug trafficking - is widely criticized abroad, there actually exists widespread support among the Indonesian population for the executions of drug traffickers.
However, there is no evidence that capital punishment for drug traffickers relates to a lower degree of drug crimes in society. Many point out that those who smuggle drugs are often not the big people behind global drug trade networks. Instead, they are usually men and women who are desperate to earn money to make a living and therefore accept the risky task of smuggling drugs into a specific country. In other cases those who are caught carrying drugs were unaware about their act because they were tricked. As such, executions will not have an impact on drug-related crime as the big players will simply seek other, desperate or unaware, people to smuggle drugs.
Another source of criticism is that Indonesia's justice/legal system is known to be flawed and therefore it easily leads to the execution of innocent people. For example, allegedly, Pakistani citizen Zulfiqar Ali - who is among those who face imminent executions on drug smuggling - was violently beaten by Indonesian police officers in order to 'encourage' a confession. Other reports claim that foreign prisoners are often denied an interpreter and/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
Worldwide, Indonesia is one of 33 countries that still use capital punishment for drug-related offenses. The only western nation that still applies the death penalty for drug-related crime is the USA (but only for exceptional cases). According to data from Amnesty International there are currently more than 165 people on death row in Indonesia, nearly half of whom for drug-related crimes.
Earlier, the Indonesian government informed that it targets to execute 18 convicted drug traffickers in full-year 2016, followed by another 30 in 2017. In 2015 Indonesia executed a total of 14 convicted criminals.
Worldwide Executions in 2015 Map