Stop the Execution of Death Row Inmates

Imminently, The General Attorney planned to execute several death row inmates. It’s like re-exposing spectacle of the scaffold to the public, after last month six death row inmates were executed at the beginning of Jokowi’s administration. It’s a paradoxical situation, when the direction of national life is considered more civilized and respecting human rights.

Restating the earlier statements, ELSAM explicitly rejects death penalty as a form of punishment in Indonesian criminal law system, for every type of crime. Therefore ELSAM urges President Joko Widodo to immediately halt the execution of death row inmates. Referring to the 1945 Constitution of Republic of Indonesia, as the supreme legal ground, and obligation in international law on human rights treaties that have been followed by Indonesia, there are a number of reasons to abolish death penalty:

First, implementation of death penalty and execution of death row inmates are contrary to human rights, and a setback of Indonesian government in human rights enforcement. During 16 years of reform, Indonesia has managed to build a series of policy and regulation on human rights protection and committed herself as a state party in various international law on human rights, particularly International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Implementation and execution of death row inmates are act of neglect by Indonesian government in obeying international obligation on human rights. In the final conclusion of observation towards Indonesian government report, in July 2013, Human Rights Committee of UN regretted the action of Indonesian government in re-executing death row inmates, particularly in drug case. According to the Committee, drug case, is not a serious crime under Art. 6 of ICCPR, and should not be sentenced by death penalty. The Committee recommended the government to undertake moratorium of death penalty and consider an abolition of death penalty by ratifying Optional Protocol of both Covenants.

Second, death penalty is not an appropriate measure to suppress crimes, particularly drug-related crime. There was no decent study to refer that death penalty implementation could bring deterrent effect and reduce crimes, as how the government views it. Crimes occurred due to many factors, so it is incorrect to blame convicted individuals, without carefully parse the root of drug-related crime.

Third, execution against death row inmates is irreversible if an error occurs. Indonesian justice system is currently struggling to achieve an independent, fair and impartial justice system. Which means, there is a collective awareness that, with the existed condition of justice system, an error in verdict caused by violations of procedure or wrongful conviction possibly happen. Many facts showed that the death row inmates didn’t get an adequate legal defense compared to the punishment they might get. In many countries including countries with more developed criminal justice system like Japan and UK, wrongful conviction becomes an undeniable fact. Criminal justice has a fragile characteristic, just because the fault of one cop, attorney, lawyer, judge or witness, an individual possibly fails to obtain a justice. There is no perfect justice system – error cannot be avoided. Therefore, wherever death penalty imposed, there is always a risk that innocent people would be punished and executed.

Fourth, the suffering from death penalty is not only experienced by the victim or death row inmate (convict), but also their families (co-victims). A study conducted by Westberg (1962) revealed that at least there are 10 stages of suffering which experienced by the co-victims: (1) shock, (2) emotions, (3) depression and loneliness, (4) physical symptom of distress, (5) panic, (6) guilty, (7) hostility and hatred, (8) inability to return to normal activities, (9) hope, and (10) reaffirmation towards their new reality.

Fifth, the tendency of world countries to abolish death penalty. Data of Amnesty International showed that until 2014, at least 140 countries had abolished death penalty. With 98 countries completely abolished death penalty, 7 countries abolished death penalty for ordinary crimes, and 35 countries no longer undertook death penalty. Meanwhile countries that are still allowing death penalty are minorities, 57 countries.

Jakarta, February 13, 2015

For further information please contact Indriaswati D. Saptaningrum (Executie Director of ELSAM), phone: 081380305728, or Zainal Abidin (Deputy of Director), phone:08128292015