Sunday, 24 May 2009

Indonesia: Activists condemn plan to limit appeals

Groups Denounce AGO Plan to Cap Execution Appeals
By Heru Andriyanto
The Jakarta Globe
22 May, 2009

Human rights groups are blasting an Attorney General's Office plan to limit the window of time inmates facing the firing squad would be allowed to lodge a final case review - to 30 days. Under Indonesian law, condemned inmates may request a case review once the Supreme Court rejects their appeal, but they must present new evidence

"It's very unlikely inmates could secure new evidence in only 30 days," said Papang Hidayat, head of research at the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Thursday.

"In other words, more and more inmates will be put to death if [the AGO proposal] becomes law."

He said Kontras remains firm in its position that capital punishment should be outlawed. Last year, the state executed 10 inmates convicted of terrorism, drug trafficking and murder. There are 111 inmates currently on death row.

The Supreme Court this year ruled that the AGO could unilaterally set a deadline for case review requests in capital punishment cases, citing as precedent that in civil cases, a review deadline stands at 180 days.

But Abdul Hakim Ritonga, an AGO deputy in charge of judicial killings, said last week that 180 days was too long, and proposed 30 days instead. Abdul leads a five-member AGO team tasked with setting up a new appeals deadline.

Rusdi Marpaung with the human rights group Imparsial said the proposal reflected the AGO’s view that executions were "business as usual."

"I cannot understand why the AGO feels so easy in planning more executions. In our view, the death sentence is against the 1945 Constitution and accordingly must be abolished," Rusdi said.

While abolishing capital punishment appears to be an uphill battle, particularly during an election year, Papang suggested that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration, which has executed 19 inmates since 2004, could impose a moratorium on death sentences.

"The most important thing to do is to mend the poor judicial system that is unable to deliver fair justice to death row inmates,” Papang said.

"Just take a look at the fact that many foreign inmates facing the capital punishment were not provided with interpreters in the court," he said. "I think if the legal proceedings were held fairly, many inmates would have escaped capital punishment."

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