INDONESIA: Execution of 10 inmates will harm international relations and rights protection

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to President of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Joko Widodo

Mr. Joko Widodo 
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16,
Jakarta Pusat,

Tel: +62 21 3458 595
Fax: +62 21 3484 4759

Dear President Widodo:

INDONESIA: Execution of 10 inmates will harm international relations and rights protection

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong-based regional human rights organization, expresses its alarm against the plan of your government to execute ten death row inmates lodged in Nusakambangan Prison, Central Java Province, Indonesia.

The AHRC is aware that your Office has given the green light to Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo to go ahead and execute the ten human beings, and as a regional human rights body, our organization unequivocally deplores the intended action, as well as the policy and principles behind the same.

The ten inmates set to be executed by firing squad are: Rodrigo Gularte (Brazil), Serge Atlaoui (France), Okwudili Oyatanaze (Nigeria), Raheem Agbaje Salami (Nigeria), Sylvester Obiekwe (Nigeria), Martin Anderson (Ghana), Zainal Abidin (Indonesia), Mary Jane Veloso (The Philippines), Andrew Chan (Australia), and Myuran Sukumaran (Australia).

The Attorney General has earlier carried out the execution of six inmates convicted for illegal drug related offenses, namely: Namaona Denis (Malawi), Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira (Brazil), Daniel Enemuo (Nigeria), Tran Thi Bich Hanh (Vietnam), Ang Kiem Soei (Indonesia), and Rani Andriani (Indonesia).

The AHRC has learned that this second set of executions is being conducted following the ten convicts having failed to secure judicial review in the Supreme Court and you having refused to grant them clemency.

As you might be aware, Mr. President, Indonesia is a state party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), with the promulgation of the Law No. 12 of 2005 on the Ratification of ICCPR; the planned executions are in violations of Article 6 of the Covenant. Article 6, paragraph 1, states, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

In line with the Covenant, the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (UUD 1945) also clearly guarantees the right to life. As stated in Article 28 A of the Constitution, “Every person shall have the right to life and to defend his / her life and existence.” Indonesia has also enacted Law No. 39 of 1999 on Human Rights; Article 4 of this law guarantees the right to life.

Furthermore, going ahead with this set of executions means Indonesia has, under your leadership, chosen to directly oppose the recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC).

In 2013, the Committee recommended that Indonesia abolish the death penalty from its legal system. You may also be aware that as a result of Indonesia choosing to continue to impose the death penalty, the UNHRC downgraded the human rights standard of Indonesia from A to E. This is a direct consequence of the failure of the Indonesian government to institute changes in line with the UNCHRC’s 2013 recommendation to stop executing human beings and to abolish the death penalty from the Indonesia’s legal system.

And, it is not just a backlash from the international community that can be expected by your government; this imminent set of executions will have serious ramifications on Indonesian citizens living abroad, some of who are themselves facing the death penalty in foreign lands.

According to Indonesian Migrant Care, as many as 229 Indonesian migrant workers are facing death penalty, and one of these death row convicts, Mrs. Siti Zaenab, has been executed by the Saudi Arabian government as recently as April 15, 2015.

Mr. President, it is indeed an odd game being played. Surely the right hand knows what the left hand is doing? Imposing the death penalty at the domestic level and protesting against the death penalty to secure the life of Indonesian citizens abroad is a double standard. How long do you think it will take before this strategy begins working?

AHRC, as a regional human rights organization, wishes to reiterate its unequivocal stance against the death penalty. There is simply insufficient evidence of the death penalty having any deterrent effect on drug traffickers. Despite the Indonesian government insisting that the death penalty will reduce drug circulation, the number of drug users and traffickers has significantly increased in Indonesia.

Therefore, the AHRC calls on you, Mr. President:

  1. To reconsider the death penalty in Indonesia, and follow up on the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee to expunge the death penalty from the Indonesian system;
  2. To cancel the execution of the ten convicts, on behalf of humanity and with respect to the rights of all human beings on this planet;
  3. To consider the psychiatric condition of the ten death row inmates, in particular, those of them who allegedly suffer from mental illness, as per the results of the examination of relevant experts. Such action would be in line with the standards and principles of international law (UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty);
  4. To ensure that all death row inmates can exercise their right to file a judicial review and that executions are not conducted until death row inmates have been able to avail all review mechanisms.
  5. To extend the moratorium on the death penalty, and revise the penal code and all other relevant legal instruments that still allow for the death penalty in any and all circumstances.

    Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing back from you.

    Yours sincerely,

    Bijo Francis
    Executive Director
    Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

    Document Type : Open Letter
    Document ID : AHRC-OLT-004-2015
    Countries : Indonesia,
    Issues : Death penalty,