Friday, February 06, 2015

Indonesia Must Immediately Establish A Moratorium on Execution And Move Towards Abolition of the Death Penalty

Media Statement – 6/2/2015

Indonesia Must Immediately Establish A Moratorium on Execution And Move Towards Abolition of the Death Penalty

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disturbed by the recent execution of 6 persons in Indonesia in January 2015, and the possibility that many more will be executed in the near future. 

Indonesia seems to have had an unofficial moratorium on executions for several years from 2008 but resumed capital punishment again in 2013. There were apparently no executions in 2014.

After President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took office in October 2014, things changed. On or about 18/1/2015, 6 persons were executed by firing squad. 5 foreigners and an Indonesian woman convicted on drug trafficking charges were killed.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says that Indonesia is in a ‘state of emergency’ with regard to rampant drug trafficking across Indonesia, and he believes that this problem could be solved by executions. He is wrong, and MADPET reiterates that the death penalty does not deter drug offences.

In March 2012, it was revealed in the Malaysian Parliament by then Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent. Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase. In 2009, there were 2,955 arrested under this section. In 2010, 3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, there were 3,845 arrested.(Free Malaysia Today, March 19, 2012, ‘Death penalty not deterring drug trade’).

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairperson Lee Lam Thye also did note in July 2013 that the death sentence had not deterred the drug trade.

It is also now accepted that many persons facing the death penalty for drug trafficking are really ‘mules’, many of whom are young people who have been tricked, or those who are financially disadvantaged. Cases like that of Malaysian Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, 24, a graduate from a poor Malay family of rice farmers, and young Malaysian Yong Vui Kong who were once facing death for drug trafficking, who since then had their sentences commuted, have opened many eyes as to why the death penalty need to be abolished, especially for drug offences. Malaysia is seriously moving towards the abolition of death penalty.   
Indonesia needs to consider the Malaysian experience, and immediately put a stop to its plans to execute even more convicted drug traffickers. There is really no empirical evidence to support the notion that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent to the commission of crimes.

Further, no criminal justice legal system in the world is foolproof, error-free or fail-safe.  In the instance of the death penalty, there is no opportunity to correct an error, as the execution of the death sentence is irreversible. We recall the Taiwan case of Chiang Kuo-ching, a private in the Air Force, who was executed in error in 1997 for a murder, which the Taiwan government did admit was an error in 2011. 

On 18/12/2014, the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) adopted a Resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. 117 member states voted in favour of the resolution,  38 voted against and 34 abstained. This was the fifth time a resolution on this issue has been passed. In December 2012, being the last time, 111 states voted in favour, 41 against and 34 abstained. In 2007, only 104 nations that supported. In 2008, this increased to 106. In 2010, 108 countries voted in favour and now in 2014, 117 member countries voted in favour. There is no doubt that the global community is more and more for the abolition of the death penalty.

Indonesia, being a member nation of the global community, should adhere to these UNGA Resolutions and immediately establish a moratorium on all executions in Indonesia.

It has been reported that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has stated that he will reject the clemency petitions for all drug traffickers on death row, which is about 57 persons. This is certainly not proper or just, for each and every application for clemency should be considered separately and without prejudice by the President on its merits. (Jakarta Post, 30/1/2015). The Presidential power to grant clemency is most important in death penalty cases as this the last  safeguard against wrongful conviction and therefore wrongful execution. 

MADPET urges Indonesia to immediately stop any further executions, and immediately comply with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution and establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET


No comments: