ELSAM and ICJR Press Statement: Death Penalty Reduces Crimes, It is a Mere Myth!

ELSAM and ICJR Press Statement
Death Penalty Reduces Crimes, It is a Mere Myth!
The State Failed to Prevent Crimes, the Government should Temporary Prohibit the Execution of Death Row Inmates

Death penalty in Indonesia always becomes a hard controversy. Some suggested that regulation and implementation of death penalty are contrary to the right to life, a human right that must not be revoked under any conditions (non-dirigible right). The problem is, death penalty in Indonesia is still part of main rule which stipulated in Criminal Code, so that in the eyes of positive law, death penalty is legal to be applied. Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) and Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) are in a position rejecting death penalty.

Based on collected data, since 1987 there were at least 189 convicts who had been sentenced to death, until January 2015, there were 164 death row inmates awaiting execution from General Attorney. A surprising news came from General Attorney’s office, which announced that they would hurry execution of death row inmates in drug case, originally scheduled January 22, 2015 to January 18, 2015. The execution would be carried out in two places, Nusakambangan and Boyolali, against 6 inmates (4 males and 2 females) – who previously filed a clemency but then rejected by President Joko Widodo on December 30, 2014: Rani Andriani (Indonesia), Daniel Enemuo and Namona Denis (Nigeria), Ang Kim Soei (Netherlands), Tran Thi Bich Hanh (Vietnam), and Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira (Brazil). According to the General Attorney, the execution that would fall on next Sunday is the first wave. Which means, there is a next wave of executions will be done this year.

The decision boldly asserted the absence of human rights commitment from Indonesian government, particularly in protecting right to life. Especially because in the last two years the government implemented death penalty practices excessively. In 2013, according to data from General Attorney’s office, there were 5 inmates who had been executed. This situation was in contrast to international tendency which recently moves towards abolition of death penalty.

The implementation of death penalty showed the government’s attitude to turn a blind eye to various contradictions and risks of death penalty impositions. At least, there are three main arguments on why death penalty becomes irrelevant to be applied in Indonesia. First, the implementation is conceptually problematic, and contrary to the right to life in Constitution. Second, death penalty is also problematic in terms of implementation. This is related to corrupt legal system in this country. Third, death penalty is absolutely contrary to the purpose of punishment. The purpose of punishment is basically a correction, not retaliation.

In addition, in 2015, the Government had plan to conduct discussion of draft Criminal Code, even the draft Criminal Code is in the first priority of Parliament’s discussion. It is noted that the ground of death penalty imposition, interestingly is in the draft Criminal Code, the government aimed to limit the use of death penalty.

Art. 87 draft Criminal Code states that death penalty is alternatively imposed as a last resort to protect the society. Restriction on death penalty is embodied in Art. 89 which basically states that death penalty implementation may be suspended with probation for 10 (ten) years, if: (a) public reaction against the convict is not excessive; (b) the convict shows a remorse and there is a hope to fix his mistake; (c) the position of convict in the inclusion of the crime is not significant; and (d) there is a reason to reduce the sentence.

Then if during probation the convict shows a commendable attitude and action, the death penalty could be converted into life imprisonment or 20 (twenty) years of imprisonment. If the probation fails, then the death penalty could be carried out, after the President rejected his clemency.

In Art. 90 of draft Criminal Code, it re-adjusts provision which states that if the clemency is rejected and death penalty is not carried out within 10 (ten) years, not because the convict escape from jail, then the death penalty could be converted into life imprisonment.

Therefore, considering a better prospect in draft Criminal Code related to death penalty, then ELSAM and ICJR recommended the government to temporary prohibit death penalty at least until the completion of draft Criminal Code discussion in Parliament, in order to maintain the consistency of government’s policy related to death penalty as it’s written in draft Criminal Code.

ELSAM and ICJR also called upon the government to immediately suspend the execution of six inmates in drug case and consistently undertake temporary prohibition on death penalty as it has been recommended by the Committee of ICCPR. Moratorium of death penalty execution, will also raise the government’s bargaining position at international level. Moreover, Indonesia is also facing the fact that there are at least five to seven workers who sentenced to death by the government of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. Indonesian government criticism towards the implementation of death penalty to Indonesian workers will certainly sound louder if domestically Indonesia show a fairness in restricting death penalty.

In addition, we called upon the government to minimize the use of death penalty in handling criminal cases, so that it could be a starting point to abolish the use of death penalty. The abolition of death penalty cannot be negotiable. First, the error judiciary since the convict is dead. Second, death penalty implementation has never triggered the decline of criminal rate, because the statistic does not say so. The deterrent effect argument was never proven, both in Indonesia and another parts of the world. The UN confirmed, that there are no convincing scientific evidence that death penalty reduces crime rates.

Jakarta, January 16, 2015