INDONESIA: Stop the third execution of death row inmates. It denies their right to life and brings no effective solution for the eradication of illegal drugs

Dear President Widodo:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based, regional human rights organization, expresses its concern regarding government plans to execute approximately 14 death row inmates. Those to be executed are Mr. Fredi Budiman (Indonesia), Mr. Eugene Ape (Nigeria), Mr. Humphrey Jefferson (Nigeria), Mr. Seck Osmane (South Africa), Mrs. Merri Utami (Indonesia), Mr. Suyanto (Indonesia), Mr. Pujo Lestari (Indonesia), Mr. Agus Hadi (Indonesia), Mr. Frederick Luttar (Zimbabwe), Okonkwo Nonso Kingsley (Nigeria), Michael Titus (Nigeria), Zulfiqar Ali (Pakistan), Gurdip Singh (India), and Obina Nwajagu (Nigeria).

The AHRC has learned that the President, under law No 5 of 2010 on Clemency, has the authority to grant clemency to death row inmates. Under article 6A, the Minister of Law and Human Rights plays an important role, in ensuring that the petitions submitted by death row inmates, makes them eligible for clemency. Before granting or not granting clemency, the President must also examine and consider various aspects

The law mandates that the President should consider the humanitarian aspect in reviewing a case before granting or not granting clemency. The AHRC gained insight after looking at the first and second executions of last year. It was noted that there was no clear consideration as to why the petitions on clemency submitted by the convicted death row inmates, were rejected by the President. PRESIDENT WIDODO HAS SHOWN NO MERCY, having rejected all petitions for clemency earlier in the year.

The government should also consider that the UN Human Rights Committee in 2013 and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2007, has issued a clear statement. It says that imposing the death penalty, for a convicted illegal drug related offense, is in violation of the right to life, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Under the ICCPR article 6 (2), of which Indonesia is a state party, such crimes do not fall within the definition of serious crimes.

The government, in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 2012, has accepted recommendations, one of which is the implementation of capital punishment. Under recommendations numbered 109.21, 109.22, 109. 23 it states that “the death sentence is regarded as the last resort which is imposed selectively only for serious crimes, and the execution can only be carried out after all legal measures are exhausted. There is a mechanism to convert a death sentence into life imprisonment.”

The government, from previous experience, has learned that imposing capital punishment will not effectively contribute to the development of the criminal justice system. Up until the present, despite government imposing capital punishment, the circulation of illegal drugs remains. In some cases police officers and military personnel are involved.

The best choice that could be initiated by the government in this situation, is the comprehensive reform of its criminal justice system. Conventional methods for eradicating illegal drug circulation must be changed into more effective ways. For example, by strengthening law enforcement agencies, by speeding up revision of the Indonesian Penal Code and by changing the punishment against drug users into rehabilitation.

Prosecuting and detaining illegal drug users will bring more problems such as overcrowding of the prisons and torture conducted by the police and prison guards. We also noted that on 23 April 2016, there occurred an uprising in the Banceuy Prison, in Bandung, West Java Province. As a result of this clash, it resulted in the death of one prisoner with many others seriously injured.

We would like to respectfully remind you that illegal drug smuggling or drug dealing is not a serious crime. It should not be sanctioned by capital punishment. The government of Indonesia, as state party of key international human rights instruments, must carry out its commitment to increase the promotion and protection of human rights. One of the best options, which will bring the country to a higher standard of human rights, is immediately abolishing capital punishment and changing it to life imprisonment.

We do believe that reform and further development of the criminal justice system is more effective in eradicating illegal drug circulation. It is more humane than the government insisting on imposing capital punishment for convicted drug users and smugglers.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely,


Bijo Francis
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-001-2016
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Death penalty, Democracy, Extrajudicial killings, Freedom of expression, Judicial system, Legislation, Military, Rule of law,