Indonesia suspends executions of death row convicts

The government has suspended executions of convicts on death row amid the current economic slowdown, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Panjaitan said on Thursday.

He said the government was focusing on improving economic growth, which accelerated at a slow pace of 4.73 percent in the third quarter of this year.

“We are not thinking about carrying out death sentences as long as our economy is still like this,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.

Luhut said the issue of the death penalty in Indonesia was raised when he met with Australian government representatives in Sydney earlier this week. Australia had promised not to interfere in Indonesia’s stance on the death penalty, he added.

“I have told them that we [Indonesia] are concentrating on the economy. We will have further discussions if something comes up,” he said.

Foreign countries and human rights groups have slammed Indonesia for implementing the death sentence against convicts, as stipulated in the Criminal Code (KUHP). President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration executed two groups of death row convicts, totaling 14 people, in January and April.

Two of the convicts were Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were executed in April, causing tension between the two countries and leading to Australia recalling its ambassador from Indonesia.

Jakarta-based human rights group the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) said it appreciated the move and urged the government to grant clemency for people on death row so their fate would be clear.

“Clemency for convicts on death row would prevent them having the death row phenomenon that often happens during a postponement of [carrying out] death sentences, which is usually evident in a mentally disturbed state,” ICJR senior researcher Anggara said on Thursday.

He also said a moratorium on the death penalty must be followed by real action, such as the Attorney General’s Office refraining from demanding the death penalty for defendants.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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