Thursday, 7 January 2010

Indonesia: Call to end death penalty

Repeal Indonesia's Death Penalty: Rights Group
By Camelia Pasandaran
From: Jakarta Globe, 6 January 2010

Indonesian rights group Imparsial on Wednesday expressed concerns over the government’s reluctance to do away with the death penalty.

In its latest report released, the organization said that 21 of the 119 people sentenced to death across the country had been executed between 1998 and December 2009. It said that almost half of those were executed in 2008 alone, when 10 prisoners faced the firing squad.

"From past experience, death row prisoners can wait as long as 20 years before they are finally executed," said Al Araf, a senior research coordinator at the rights group.

He added that of the 119 prisoners on the death row, 55 were foreigners.

"Among the foreigners, the highest number comes from Nigeria, with 11 people," Al Araf said.

The other foreign prisoners on death row are from Australia, Nepal, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the Netherlands.

Al Araf said the government should commute the death sentence to life in prison for psoners that have been on death row for five years or more.

"After five years, the sanction should be changed to a life sentence," he said, adding that more than 60 of those currently on death row have been waiting for more than five years.

Nineteen of the 21 prisoners who have faced the firing squad since 1998 were convicted for murder. Those convicted of drug offenses were the second-largest group, and those convicted of terrorism charges were third.

Indonesia is one of 66 countries around the world that still implements the death penalty. Although the country ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2005, it has not adopted the second optional protocol aimed at the abolition of the death penalty.

Despite international pressure, the death penalty is still imposed for crimes in Indonesia.

Al Araf said the death penalty was not an effective deterrent to crime, and everyone had the right to life. "As an intrinsic right, there should be no exception in whatever situation," he said. "Instead, the death sentence has been promoted by politicians to show how serious they are in fighting crime. It has become a political commodity to win elections."

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s legal affairs adviser, Denny Indrayana, recently said the government’s stance was in line with a Constitutional Court ruling in March 2007 that threw out a judicial review filed by two Australians on death row, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. They had challenged the constitutionality of the death penalty.

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