Human Rights Watch Asks Indonesia To Commute Death Sentence On Four Nigerians, 10 Other Nationals
… May Be Executed July 29
…Death Penalty For Drug Crimes Violate International Law—HRW
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia to urgently commute the death sentences of at least 14 people,including four Nigerians, who may be executed on July 29,2016 for drug trafficking.
It gave the names of the Nigerian nationals to include: Eugene Ape, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke, Michael Titus Igweh, and Obinna Nwajagu, who were all arrested for drug trafficking in 2002 or 2003.
Human Rights Watch, said that though the Indonesian government has not announced a date for the executions, but that it has warned that “the time is approaching” ,adding that Jakarta-based diplomats have reported that the attorney general’s office informed them that the executions will take place on July 29, 2016.
The Indonesia government, HRW said has not released an official list of prisoners facing the death penalty in the coming days but the Indonesia’s Security chief, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, had said on May 13 that he wants these executions to occur without a “soap opera,” a reference to Brazil’s and Australia’s highly publicised but unsuccessful efforts to prevent the execution of their citizens in Indonesia’s most recent mass executions in April 2015.
Speaking on the development, the Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, Phelim Kine said, “President Jokowi should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and avoid a potential diplomatic firestorm by sparing the lives of the 14 or more people facing imminent execution. Jokowi should also ban the death penalty for drug crimes, which international law prohibits, rather than giving the go-ahead for more multiple executions.”
The HRW stated that already authorities had transferred several death row prisoners, including Indonesian national Merry Utami and Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali to Nusa Kambangan island, where the executions are slated to occur, adding that Pakistan’s government is however seeking to dissuade Indonesia from executing Ali, who has been on death row since 2005 for drug smuggling, alleging that Ali’s “trial was not fair.”
The group said that foreign embassy personnel and media reports have confirmed that the death row prisoners also include four Nigerians, one Zimbabwean and several Indonesian nationals.
Recalled that Indonesia ended a four-year unofficial moratorium on the death penalty in March 2013.
President Widodo has sought to justify the use of the death penalty on the basis that drug traffickers on death row had “destroyed the future of the nation.”
In December 2014 he told students that the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers was an “important shock therapy” for anyone who violates Indonesia’s drug laws.
HRW said that the alleged deterrent effect of the death penalty has been repeatedly debunked.
Recalled that on March 4, 2015, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, had said that there was “no evidence that the death penalty deters any crime.”
This is just as an Oxford University analysis concluded that capital punishment does not deter “murder to a marginally greater extent than does the threat and application of the supposedly lesser punishment of life imprisonment” as it concerns murder.
According to the most recent statistics issued by the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly, 133 people were on death row in Indonesia as at January 2015.
They include: 57 convicted of drug trafficking, two for terrorist offences and the remaining 74 for murder or robbery.
HRW stated that it was against the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty, adding that Indonesia’s use of the death penalty is contrary to international human rights law and that these statements have been affirmed by UN human rights experts and various UN bodies.
The body posited that human rights law upholds every human being’s “inherent right to life” and limits the death penalty to “the most serious crimes,” typically crimes resulting in death or serious bodily harm.
It urged Indonesia to join the many countries already committed to the UN General Assembly’s December 18, 2007 resolution calling for a moratorium on executions, a move by UN member countries toward abolition of the death penalty.
HRW informed that in a March 2010 report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime called for an end to the death penalty and specifically urged member countries to prohibit use of the death penalty for drug-related offences, while urging countries to take an overall “human rights-based approach to drug and crime control.”
The organisation further stated that that the UN in its 2014 annual report, the International Narcotics Control Board, the agency charged with monitoring compliance with UN drug control conventions, encouraged countries to abolish the death penalty for drug offenses.
Human Rights Watch said that the UN Human Rights Committee and the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have concluded that the death penalty for drug offences fails to meet the condition of “most serious crime.”
Also, in September 2015 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reaffirmed that persons convicted of drug-related offences should not be subject to the death penalty.
According to Kine, “President Jokowi should recognize the well-documented failure of the death penalty as a crime deterrent and allow Indonesia to join the growing number of countries that have abolished capital punishment. Jokowi would demonstrate leadership and respect for human rights by granting clemency to convicted drug traffickers on death row and restoring Indonesia’s unofficial moratorium on the death penalty.”