INDONESIA: Deficit of death penalty abolition in Indonesia amidst global trend to eliminate such punishment 

A Joint Statement by KontraS, LBH Masyarakat, LeIP, YLBHI, Imparsial, LBH Jakarta, Mappi and the Asian Human Rights Commission

Commemorating the World Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October 2012, the Indonesian Coalition of Civil Society against Death Penalty is pleased to welcome the significant trend on the abolition of death penalty. A report published by Hands Off Cain Info reveals that approximately 155 countries have abolished death penalty from their legal system or in practice. Ninety nine of the countries have excluded death penalty for any kind of crime, 44 others no longer impose death penalty in practice (de facto abolitionists), while seven countries have abolished death penalty for ordinary crimes and five others have imposed an execution moratorium. In Indonesia, 2012 is the fourth year that no execution has taken place.

Within the last decade, there has even been significant progress in the United States which is well known for its firm position in retaining the death penalty: 17 of its states have abolished the punishment. In 2011, there were only 78 court judgments handing down the death penalty to persons convicted. This is far below the average number between the 1980s and the 1990s when approximately 280 court judgments imposing the death penalty were delivered each year (Amnesty International). Reform on policies concerning death penalty has also taken place in China. In 2011, China revised its policies for 13 economic crimes of 68 crimes that might be subject to the death penalty. The death penalty may no longer be imposed for individuals whose age is above 75 (World Coalition, 2012).

The positive shift at the global level concerning the criminal justice reform should inspire the Indonesian government to reform its law enforcement system. Interestingly, a positive sign came from the Supreme Court which in its judgment No. 39 PK/Pid.Sus/2011 annulled the death penalty imposed on Hengky Gunawan for his ownership of an ecstasy factory. Such judgment emphasises the contradiction between death penalty and non-derogable rights –including the right to life — as stipulated under the Article 28 paragraph (1) of the 1945 Constitution as well as Article 4 of Law No. 39/1999 on Human Rights.

This judgment was further reaffirmed in October 2012 when the Supreme Court declared death penalty as imposed in Hengky Gunawan’s case as unconstitutional. The judgment should be appreciated and noted as a significant progress for the enhancement of human rights in Indonesia.

The debate on the constitutionality of the death penalty shall not ignore the fact that there are over 100 people on death row as a result of court judgments at various levels. Most of them were convicted for their involvement in narcotics crimes and 80% of them are non-nationals. Included in the later list are the members of Bali Nine as well as Julian Anthony Ponder and Lindsay June Sandiford who were sentenced recently. The death penalty is also a potential threat for Indonesian migrant workers residing in different countries. Due to lack of attention paid on the issue, unfortunately, numbers of migrant workers given the death penalty cannot be confirmed. In a terrorism case, Aceh Usria and Muhammad Sulaiman were sentenced to death for violating Article 15 read in conjunction with Articles 6, 7 and 8 of Law No. 15 Year 2003 on Terrorism Crimes which still contain death penalty as one of forms of punishment.

The call for global moratorium at the UN General Assembly was voiced in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and in an upcoming session in 2012. It calls for the realisation of the states’ commitment to abolish the death penalty. As a country which still imposes the death penalty for terrorism, narcotics crimes, corruption and other crimes, Indonesia should take a positive breakthrough and no longer get stuck in the clichéd political jargon used by its politicians who oppose death penalty only to attract public support.

The public should also be given the understanding that the death penalty does not have any deterrent effect and it will neither prevent nor decrease the level of crimes. Violation of the right to life through a legalised death penalty will not be a solution for law enforcement issues.

Considering the above, the Coalition of Civil Society against Death Penalty urges:
1.    The government and the parliament to abolish death penalty from the Indonesian legal system or, at the minimum, impose a moratorium to such punishment;
2.    All judiciary bodies and the judges in Indonesia to stop handing down death penalty and to take into consideration international human rights standards in criminal cases they examine;
3.    As long as death penalty remains in the system, the government needs to ensure the right of persons sentenced to death penalty to a meaningful clemency. The provisions under the Law No. 5 Year 2010 on Clemency which impose overly burdensome requirements for clemency request shall be revised as to in compliance with international human rights standards.


Jakarta, 9 October 2012
Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil Menolak Hukuman Mati

KontraS, LBH Masyarakat, LeIP, YLBHI, Imparsial, LBH Jakarta, Mappi, Asian Human Rights Commission

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-195-2012
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Death penalty,