Despite fierce international criticism, Indonesia will go-ahead with the executions of 14 convicted drug traffickers, including 10 foreigners (from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India and Pakistan). According to local media coffins have already arrived at the Nusa Kambangan prison island (Central Java) where executions usually take place, while the families of those who face imminent executions have already been informed. The executions, by firing squad, are expected to be conducted tonight or tomorrow (traditionally around midnight).
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that it is highly concerned about the execution spree that has been detected in Indonesia since 2015 under the leadership of Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. Earlier, the Indonesian government informed that it targets to execute 18 convicted drug traffickers in full-year 2016, followed by another 30 in the following year. In 2015 Indonesian authorities executed a total of 14 criminals.
President Joko Widodo justifies these executions - all related to drug trafficking - by stating that Indonesia needs to act against widespread drug abuse in Indonesian society in an effort to safeguard peoples' health. However, Indonesian human rights group Imparsial, which requests the government to scrap the death sentence, says there is no evidence that links the act of executing drug traffickers to a decrease of drug-related crimes in Indonesian society.
Moreover, Indonesia's justice/legal system is flawed and therefore it can easily lead 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.
According to data from Amnesty International there are currently more than 165 people on death row in Indonesia, most of whom (some 40 percent) for drug-related crimes. Amnesty International and HRW emphasize that executions for drug-related crimes are in violation of international law. Based on this law the death sentence can only be applied to severe crime cases that involve intentional killing.
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
Cabinet Reshuffle: Welcome Back Mr Wiranto?
In a bigger-than-expected cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday (27/07), President Widodo formed a new team that is envisaged make and implement policies more effectively compared to its predecessors. Many - if not all - people, analysts and investors were happy to see reform-minded professional Sri Mulyani Indrawati back on her position as finance minister after a six-year hiatus (she left Indonesian politics in 2010 due to severe pressures from those politicians who had to defend their business interests).
However, another name also drew attention is former army general Wiranto who was appointed to become the nation's new security chief. It is a controversial choice as Wiranto's name is - allegedly - closely linked to human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999.
Although human rights groups are not pleased to see Wiranto back in an Indonesian cabinet, the move has not led to negative reactions from markets as Wiranto is not seen as being a 'threat' to Indonesia's investment climate or business community.
Wiranto has his own political party (Hanura) that had supported Widodo in the 2014 presidential election. It could therefore be a political move of President Widodo to appoint Wiranto as security chief. Wiranto himself participated in the 2004 presidential election, running for president, while in the 2009 elections he ran for the vice presidency. Both attempts were unsuccessful.
Wiranto replaces Luhut Panjaitan as security chief. Panjaitan was moved to lead the Ministry of Maritime Affairs. Being a former army leader as well, Indonesia now has two 'army leaders' on strategic positions related to the nation's security issues. Maritime affairs are increasingly important now China has been eager to expand its influence in the South China Sea, undermining the sovereignty of Southeast Asian nations. As such, the reshuffle could also be understood as a move of Widodo to remind the international community that Indonesia is ready to defend sovereignty in its territorial waters.
Do you agree with Sri Mulyani and Wiranto entering the cabinet?
Voting possible: -
- I agree with Sri Mulyani in the cabinet, not with Wiranto (45.4%)
- Yes, I agree (42.1%)
- No, I don't agree (6.1%)
- I don't know (5.4%)
- I agree with Wiranto in the cabinet, not with Sri Mulyani (1.1%)
Total amount of votes: 280