"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Indonesia slammed in death penalty report

A global report on capital punishment has pointed to widespread reports of corruption in Indonesia's judiciary, while slamming claims in Jakarta that a wave of pending executions of drug traffickers is needed to combat a national emergency.

The human rights group Amnesty International says progress has been made around the globe towards abolishing the death penalty following a dramatic fall in the number of executions worldwide in 2014.

At least 607 executions were carried out worldwide last year - excluding China where data on the death penalty is a state secret - amounting to a decrease of almost 22 per cent compared with 2013.

But in a report released in London on Wednesday, Amnesty also singles out a number of countries for bucking the trend, including Indonesia where Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are among 10 prisoners scheduled for a simultaneous mass execution.

The report also criticises Indonesia over issues surrounding corruption of the trial process, and the use of the death penalty against juveniles and people with mental or intellectual disabilities.

Papang Hidayat, Amnesty International's Indonesia researcher, said fair trial concerns in Indonesia make its use of capital punishment particularly troubling.

"Investigations by human rights groups have found that individuals sentenced to death have been tortured and forced to sign police investigation reports. Many did and do not have lawyers, in particular after arrest and during interrogation," Mr Papang said.

"Widespread reports of corruption in the police and judiciary and Indonesia's decades-old penal code - which does not provide adequate protection from torture, for example - compound these issues."

The report comes as Indonesia prepares to execute 10 convicted drug traffickers, including the Bali Nine's Chan and Sukumaran. Their case and trial have been subject to accusations of corruption, including allegations the judges who sentenced them to death offered a lighter sentence in exchange for money.

A letter sent by their legal team to Indonesia's judicial committee earlier this year also claimed the judges received pressure from "certain parties" to hand out the death penalty.

Amnesty International is scathing of the Indonesian government's argument that the resumption of executions for drug-related offences, announced in December, was needed to "confront a national emergency".

Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty said governments using the death penalty to tackle crime "are deluding themselves".

The trend of using the death penalty in "a futile attempt" to tackle real or imaginary threats to state security and public safety was stark last year, he said.

"There is no evidence that shows the threat of execution is more of a deterrent to crime than any other punishment."

The report shows more people were sentenced to death in 2014, but the figures are skewed by spikes in death sentences in Egypt and Nigeria, where courts imposed mass sentences against scores of people in some cases.

China is believed to have carried out more executions than the rest of the world put together in 2014, but the true figure cannot be determined.

Apart from China, the countries making up the world's top 5 executioners in 2014, according to Amnesty, were Iran (289 officially announced, at least 454 more not acknowledged by authorities), Saudi Arabia (at least 90), Iraq (at least 61) and the USA (35).

Source: sbs.com.au, April 2, 2015

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