"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, July 28, 2016

Indonesia Prepares to Execute Prisoners Convicted of Drug Crimes

Nusakambangan prison, Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia plans to execute 14 death row prisoners, mostly foreigners, as early as Friday morning as it resumes a “war on drugs” that drew international condemnation last year after two mass executions of foreign drug convicts.

The attorney general’s office has not announced any dates for the prisoners’ executions, which it has said in recent weeks would be carried out “soon.” But legal advocates for the condemned, as well as Indonesian news media, have said in recent days that the convicts will face police firing squads just after midnight Thursday and that the government has already informed the embassies of the condemned foreigners.

The list of those to be executed includes 10 from the African nations of Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe, and from India and Pakistan. Four Indonesians, including one woman, are also scheduled to die, according to the Community Legal Aid Institute, an Indonesian organization representing two of the 14.

“How are my clients feeling? Nobody wants to end like this, that’s for sure,” Ursa Supit, an Indonesian legal activist who is representing two of the condemned, one an Indonesian and the other from Nigeria, said on Thursday.

“But hope never ends,” she said.

All 14 prisoners were convicted of drug-related offenses, including smuggling and trafficking, according to the organization, which released their names on Wednesday.

There has been a flurry of 11th-hour appeals to spare them, but the commutation of their sentences appears unlikely.

“The action that Indonesia takes now is just about law implementation and enforcement,” said Arrmanatha Nasir, the chief spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry. “Just like how Indonesia respects the law of other nations, we hope all countries will respect Indonesian law.”

In recent days, the attorney general’s office has transferred an unknown number of inmates on death row for drug-related crimes to the prison island of Nusakambangan, off the south coast of Java Island, where Indonesia’s executions are carried out. The prisoners have all been placed in isolation.

On Wednesday, Attorney General H. M. Prasetyo told reporters that executions would occur this weekend but did not say when or of whom, Reuters reported. Typically, the Indonesian authorities have carried out executions shortly after midnight on Saturday.

Despite having dozens of convicts on death row, most of them there for drug-related offenses, Indonesia in recent years has executed few prisoners. Between 2009 and 2014, only four were executed: three Indonesians for murder and one from Malawi for drug trafficking.

However, shortly after the current president, Joko Widodo, took office in October 2014, he declared that the country was facing a “drugs emergency” and rejected clemency appeals from more than 60 death row inmates. International analysts have questioned the claim that there is such an emergency.

Mr. Joko enthusiastically approved the mass executions in January and April of last year, telling the leaders of allies including Australia and the Netherlands, Indonesia’s former colonial master, not to interfere with the country’s sovereignty.

Firing squads executed 13 people in 2015 for drug offenses, all but one of them foreigners. One Indonesian was executed in January of last year for murder.

The foreigners included a citizen of the Netherlands, which increased condemnation from Western nations.

One female death row inmate from the Philippines and another from France were spared the firing squad last year after last-minute appeals, but they remain on death row.

The two executed foreign prisoners with the highest profiles were Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 34, members of the so-called Bali Nine group of Australians who were arrested in 2005 trying to smuggle 18.5 pounds of heroin out of the resort island of Bali.

A Brazilian who was executed, Rodrigo Gularte, 42, had had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder since he was a teenager, conditions that his lawyers said should have disqualified him from criminal prosecution under Indonesian law.

The United Nations and international human rights groups have said that the majority of those executed last year did not receive fair trials.

Advocates for the 14 prisoners now facing the firing squad have also complained that the prisoners either did not get fair trials, were not provided with adequate legal representation or were tortured into confessing.

The European Union issued a statement on Wednesday calling on Indonesia to halt the scheduled executions and to consider joining more than 140 nations that have abolished the death penalty.

“The E.U. is opposed to capital punishment without exception and has consistently called for its universal abolition,” the statement said. “The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”

The United Nations also weighed in, with Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, saying that Indonesia’s increasing use of the death penalty was “terribly worrying.”

“I find it deeply disturbing that Indonesia has already executed 19 people since 2013, making it the most prolific executioner in Southeast Asia,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Source: The New York Times, Joe Cochrane, July 28, 2016

India makes last minute effort to save Gurdip Singh from execution in Indonesia today

Indonesian police officers
Gurdip Singh was found guilty of trying to smuggle drugs into. He is facing death sentence.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said government was making last minute efforts to save an Indian man facing execution on Thursday in Indonesia in a drug related case.

Gurdip Singh (48) was found guilty by Indonesian authorities of trying to smuggle drugs into the country.

"Gurdip Singh is facing death sentence in a drug case in Indonesia.

"We are making last minute efforts to save him from execution on July 28," Swaraj said in a series of tweets.

Singh was reportedly given death sentence by a district court in Indonesia's Tanggerang Banten province.

Singh, who hails from Jalandhar in Punjab, is among 14 people who are facing execution after the authorities decided to resume implementing death penalties. The decision was criticised by human rights organisations.

Source: DNA, July 28, 2016

All legal rights of death convicts fulfilled: Official

Indonesia has reiterated its insistence that the death penalty is an acceptable punishment under international law and a necessary method to address the intensifying drug crisis across the nation, an official has said.

"I need to emphasize here that all the legal rights and legal procedures related to the death-row convicts have been fulfilled," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir announced on Thursday.

Arrmanatha was addressing reporters' questions related to the concerns of foreign governments and institutions on the imminent executions, expected to be carried out within hours.

The spokesman reiterated that the death penalty did not violate international law. In Indonesia, Arrmanatha continued, capital punishment did not violate the right to life in the context of the 1945 Constitution.

The death penalty is applied only to traffickers, who are considered responsible for the proliferated spread of illicit drugs in the country, while abusers are given rehabilitation, said Arrmanatha, adding that Indonesia had rapidly turned from being a transit country to a destination country and a main market in the Asian region.

"As Indonesia always respects applicable laws in other countries, we also hope that every country will respect laws that are applicable in Indonesia," Arrmanatha said.

Attorney General M. Prasetyo said on Wednesday that 14 people, most of whom are foreigners, including convicts from Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe, had been put in isolation on Nusakambangan prison island off Cilacap, Central Java, and would be executed this week.

Source: Jakarta Post, July 28, 2016

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