Friday, May 31, 2013

Appeals, Clemency ‘Hold Back’ Executions in Indonesia

Death Row Cell at Kerobokan Prison
Despite opposition to executions of Indonesian nationals abroad, some officials are urging liberal use of the death penalty, especially for drug-related offenses.

Inmates on death row are abusing appeals and requests for clemency to avoid their sentences, according to Ma’ruf Amin, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council for inter-religious affairs.

“The death penalty has been decided, but still it can’t be carried out. It’s there, but it’s not,” he said during a discussion titled “Death Penalty for Drug Criminals,” held by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) in Jakarta on Thursday.

Ma’ruf argued that delaying executions appeared to be part of a well-planned strategy by unscrupulous parties.

“The way I see it, this is being done by design, but I don’t know who the people behind it are. It is therefore important that we investigate this in order to eliminate such constraints,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Djoko Sarwoko, a former Supreme Court justice, agreed that there had been obstacles to executing death row inmates.

“A person facing the death sentence would suddenly make a request for a case review as his execution approaches, and whether or not we like it, that has to be accommodated and therefore pushes back the execution process,” Djoko said.

Even after having their case review rejected, inmates are still given a chance to seek clemency, he said.

“This is what postpones the executions of death sentences,” he said.

Djoko called on law enforcement officers to be more firm and decisive in carrying out the executions, warning that otherwise they may be risking the public’s respect toward the law.

Jimly Asshiddiqie, a former Constitutional Court chief justice, said that political will was needed to execute convicts.

“We have agreed to the death penalty, but we appear indecisive when it comes to carrying out the sentences,” he said.

At times law enforcement officers often aid convicts, raising objections that may counter the court’s decision, he said.

“The execution of death row inmates is just as serious as the death penalty itself.,” Jimly said.

"25 Indonesian maids on death row in Saudi Arabia"
But President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has argued against the death penalty on concerns that it goes against the international trend for the abolition of capital punishment and because it puts the country’s own citizens at risk overseas.

In March, Adami Wilson, 48, a drug trafficker from Malawi, was executed by firing squad in Indonesia’s first execution of a convicted felon since 2008.

That same month, a Saudi court sentenced an Indonesian housemaid to death after she was convicted of murdering her employers’ four-year-old child, the Saudi Gazette reported.

In April last year, local media reported that 25 Indonesian maids were on death row in Saudi Arabia, while 22 others had been pardoned and sent home.

In June 2011, Indonesian maid Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was beheaded after she was convicted of killing her Saudi employer, prompting Indonesia to recall its ambassador from the kingdom.

While Indonesian courts continue to hand down death sentences, the government has been mulling commuting such sentences as part of a wider rejection of capital punishment.


Source: Jakarta Globe, May 31, 2013