Stop imminent execution of 14 drug convicts

Press release
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(Paris, Jakarta) President Joko Widodo must immediately halt the imminent execution of at least 14 inmates convicted of drug-related offenses, FIDH and its member organization KontraS said today.

“President Widodo is turning Indonesia into one of Southeast Asia’s top executioners. His determination to pursue the death penalty for drug offenders seriously tarnishes Indonesia’s international reputation and does nothing to rid the country of the scourge of drugs.”

Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

On 26 July 2016, it was reported that Indonesian authorities planned to execute at least 14 death row inmates (13 men and one woman) by firing squad as early as 29 July 2016.

The 14 convicts who received the 72-hour notice of their execution in Nusakambangan prison in Central Java, are: Agus Hadi, Freddy Budiman, Merri Utami (F), and Pujo Lestari (Indonesia); Eugene Ape, Humphery Jefferson Ejike Eleweke, Obina Nwajagu, Michael Titus Igweh, Okonkwo Nongso Kingsley, and Ozias Sibanda (Nigeria); Fredderick Luttar (Zimbabwe); Gurdip Singh (India); Seck Osmane (South Africa); and Zulfiqar Ali (Pakistan). All 14 prisoners were convicted of drug-related offenses. In June 2016, authorities stated that there were 152 people on death row and that the executions of drug traffickers would be prioritized, with plans to execute 16 this year and 30 in 2017. Under President Widodo, in 2015 Indonesia executed 14 individuals who had been convicted of drug-related offenses.

FIDH and KontraS condemn Indonesia’s lack of transparency surrounding the upcoming executions. In contrast to the last two batches of executions carried out in 2015, Indonesian authorities have failed to make an official announcement about the impending date of the executions and the identity of the inmates that will face the firing squad.

FIDH and KontraS also express their concern over reports that at least two of the inmates who are set to face execution were convicted based on evidence contained in confessions obtained through torture. Nigerian Michael Titus Igweh alleged that police inflicted electric shocks to his genitals to force him to confess to possessing heroin. Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali also claimed that he was tortured following a wrongful arrest and forced to confess to drug possession, a charge he later denied.

The two organizations reiterate their call on President Widodo to establish without delay an official moratorium on executions and commute all death sentences to prison terms as initial steps towards the complete abolition of capital punishment in Indonesia.

FIDH and KontraS insist that there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent effect on crime, including on drug-related offenses.

From a legal standpoint, Indonesia’s ongoing imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offenses is a breach of the country’s international obligations concerning the right to life under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Indonesia has ratified. Article 6 of the ICCPR states that “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.” The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), which monitors state parties’ compliance with the provisions of the ICCPR, has repeatedly stressed that capital punishment for drug-related offenses is a clear violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR because these types of offenses do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes.”

“On the death penalty, President Widodo is going in the wrong direction by pushing ahead with executions and introducing capital punishment for more crimes. He must abandon his ill-advised stance on the death penalty and take immediate, tangible steps towards abolition.”

Haris Azhar, KontraS Executive Director

On 25 May 2016, President Widodo signed a decree that amended the 2002 Child Protection Law to introduce capital punishment for individuals convicted of committing sexual violence against children. The death penalty would be imposed in cases where the victims died or suffered serious mental or physical injury. The decree is awaiting ratification in the House of Representatives.

FIDH and KontraS, both members of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), reiterate their strong opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances.

Press contacts
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66 886 117722 (Bangkok)
Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33672284294 (Paris)
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