Friday, March 15, 2013

Indonesia: Bali inmate executed

Kerobokan Prison
Bali, Indonesia
"Indonesia remains a country that opposes the death penalty for its own citizens abroad but continues to apply capital punishment within its own borders." Dave McRae, Staying the executioners' guns?

Indonesia on Friday executed its first death row prisoner in 5 years, when 7 ordinary prisoners bookended the deaths of the Bali bombers.

The news will cause dismay to Australian Bali 9 drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, and their lawyers, who lodged applications for clemency nine months ago with the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The surprise execution, which was announced publicly late on Friday, hours after the event, shattered the hope that public sentiment in Indonesia would prevent more deaths.

Until now, anti-death penalty advocates had hoped that the break since 2008 between executions indicated that Indonesia was now pursuing an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment.

But at dawn on Friday, a Nigerian drug smuggler, Adami Wilson Bin Adam, aka Abu, was taken to one of the “thousand islands” off the coast of Jakarta, had a target hung around his neck, and was killed by firing squad.

An Attorney-General’s office spokesperson Setia Untung Arimuladi said Adam was a former police intelligence officer from Nigeria who had been caught in 2003 transporting 1kg of heroin.

Sukumaran and Chan were arrested and jailed in 2005 after helping organise a shipment of 8.3kg of heroin.

Supporters of the death penalty in Indonesia, led by Attorney-General Basrief Arief, began 2013 with strong statements that 10 prisoners would be executed this year because they had exhausted all legal avenues of appeal, including failing in their bid for clemency with Mr Yudhoyono.

Another 111 prisoners in Indonesia are, like the Australians, on death row, but with legal or political appeals pending.

The anti-death penalty lobby in Indonesia believed it had made some inroads last year when news emerged that Mr Yudhoyono had quietly granted clemency to five people on death row since 2004, including drug traffickers.

When that news came out about those grants of clemency, Indonesia’s urbane foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, commented pointedly that most of the world had now abolished capital punishment and Indonesia was now in a minority.

But the constituency for the death penalty in Indonesia, particularly among its police and security forces, as well as among Muslim groups, remains strong. Masdar Farid Mas’udi, the deputy chairman of the 30 million strong Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama, wrote last year that, in the absence of remorse, “capital punishment is the best for [the criminal], for the people and for the state”.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, March 15, 2013


Indonesia: First execution in four years “shocking and regressive”

The first execution in Indonesia in more than four years is a shocking and regressive step, Amnesty International said as it urged the government to not follow through on promises to put a further nine people to death in 2013.

Last night, Adami Wilson, a 48-year old Malawian national who was convicted for drug trafficking in 2004, was executed by firing squad in Jakarta. It was the first execution in Indonesia since November 2008.

The Indonesian Attorney General Basrief Arief said that the authorities planned to put at least a further nine death row inmates to death in 2013.

“This is really outrageous news. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but Indonesia’s long period without executions and the pledge to put even more people to death, makes this even more shocking,” said Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International’s Indonesia Researcher.

Wilson was first convicted for trafficking 1 kg of heroin in 2004 in Tangerang, south-western Banten province.

Yesterday’s execution is the first in Indonesia in more than four years. The previous one happened on 9 November 2008, when three of the men involved in the 2002 Bali bombings were put to death.

After Wilson was executed by firing squad, the Attorney General today said that at least nine more executions would be carried out this year, and that as many as 20 death row inmates could be executed.

Around 130 people are believed to be on death row in Indonesia – more than half of them have been convicted of drug trafficking. Many are foreign nationals. The use of the death penalty for drug-related offences does not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” as prescribed under international law.

“This is an incomprehensible statement from the Attorney General – carrying out even more executions now would be hugely regressive. We urge the Indonesia government to immediately halt any plans to put more people to death,” Hidayat said.

Today’s events are at odds with positive indications that Indonesia was moving away from the death penalty.

In October 2012, after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono commuted the death sentence of a drug trafficker, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the move was part of a wider push away from the use of the death penalty in Indonesia.

At the UN General Assembly in December 2012, Indonesia for the first time abstained from voting against a resolution calling for a global moratorium on the death penalty.

“What makes this so disappointing is that we have really seen the Indonesian government sending progressive signals on moving away from the death penalty in recent years,” Hidayat said.

“The last year has seen many other countries in the region, including Malaysia and Singapore, taking steps to limit the use of the death penalty, including for drug-related offences. We expected Indonesia to be leading this trend – not dragging the region backwards.”

Source: Amnesty International, March 15, 2013