Sunday, 2 November 2008

Indonesia: Human rights appeals for bombers

Two international human rights organisations have called on the Indonesian government to grant clemency to the three Bali bombers, who may be killed by firing squad as early as tonight.

Indonesian human rights organisations have also protested against the country's use of the death penalty.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week wrote to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urging him "in the strongest terms" to halt the executions [27 Oct].

Amnesty International (AI) released a statement opposing the executions and calling on Indonesia to "draw a line under its policy of escalating executions" and establish a moratorium [31 Oct].

Seven people have been executed in Indonesia since June 2008, five for murder and two for drug offences.

Illegal, against the trend
Human Rights Watch argued in its letter that the three death sentences were a breach of international human rights standards, as well as running counter to an international trend away from the death penalty.

"Rather than allow the executions to go forward, you should commute the men’s sentences to life in prison," wrote Joanne Mariner Elaine Pearson, deputy director of the organisation's terrorism and counterterrorism Asia division.

The organisation was particularly critical that the three men were sentenced to death under special counter-terrorism legislation enacted after the bombing, when retroactive criminal laws are prohibited under Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

It said Human Rights Watch "strongly opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty and finality".

"We also note that there is no clear evidence that the application of the death penalty serves as a more effective deterrent against criminal activity than other forms of punishment."

Human Rights Watch said it deplored acts of terrorism and recognised "the government's duty to bring to justice persons responsible for such serious crimes".

"We condemn the 2002 Bali bombings as horrific and inexcusable attacks, and believe that the perpetrators should be held to account," the letter said.

"We strongly believe, however, that the death penalty is not an appropriate sanction, particularly in this instance."

The human rights organisation was also concerned that Indonesia retained and used the death penalty "contrary to the global trend toward the abolition of the death penalty", and had recently increased the rate of executions.

Simply more violations
The latest statement from Amnesty International said the executions would add further human rights violations to the violation of the original attacks.

"While the Bali attacks were a horrific atrocity, Amnesty International firmly believes that to continue the cycle of violence through state sanctioned killing will not bring redress for the victims, and furthermore answers the violation of human rights with further violations," it said.

While there was "no reliable evidence that the death penalty deters future criminal acts", Amnesty International said these executions "may only serve to perpetuate such atrocities".

"There is a serious risk that the executions will turn the bombers from murderers to martyrs, whose memories will be used to increase support and recruitment to their cause."

It said the death penalty was the ultimate denial of human rights, and it said unequivocally that it was opposed to it "in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner".

This was instead an opportunity for "Indonesia to draw a line under its policy of escalating executions and to establish an immediate moratorium with a view to abolition".

The organisation issued a revised action appeal on 16 October 2008, calling for its supporters to appeal to the Indonesian government for all death sentences to be commuted, including those imposed on the three bombers.

It also asked people to express concern that the law under which the three were convicted was applied retrospectively, "violating international law and the Indonesian Constitution".

Related stories:
Execution wrong - even for terrorists -- 31 October 2008
Bali executions will inspire martyrs: expert -- 25 February 2008
Bali bombers may soon get their wish -- 10 November 2007


Anonymous said...

The Australian media has become so obsessed with the Bali bombers that it failed to report the stoning-to-death of a 13-year-old female Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, inside a public stadium in Somalia. Aisha had been raped by three males and had attempted to report the rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo in South Somalia. It was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. She was found guilty of extr-marital sex and sentenced to death by an Islamic court in Kismayo. Thousands of spectators gathered to witness fifty Somali males stone the woman to death on October 27, 2008. None of males who raped her were arrested. Amnesty International has reported that the female was actually 13 years old, but Somali journalists had previously reported she was 23 years old and had judged her age by her physical appearance.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon, I agree the Australian media has become obsessed with the execution of the bombers. I'm not sure about the print editions, but the Australian online newspapers did feature the Somali girl pretty prominently. Egs:

News Ltd:,21985,24589989-663,00.html,25197,24605151-2703,00.html,22049,24601605-5006003,00.html