Following Siti Aisyah’s Release, Indonesian Government Should Avoid Double Standard on Fair Trial and Death Penalty

ICJR appreciates the efforts of the Indonesian Government to ensure the fulfilment of fair trial rights on Siti Aisyah’s case during the trial abroad so that she can totally avoid capital punishment. With regards to this issue, ICJR encourages the Government to also commit in ensuring the implementation of fair trial principles as well as ensuring the prosecutors to no longer seek death penalty for any defendants tried domestically.

On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian citizen who had been prosecuted to face death penalty on charge of murdering Kim Jong Nam has finally returned to her hometown after the charge alleged to her was cancelled. The government stated that the effort to release Siti Aisyah from the grip of the death penalty was a long effort which had been started since the first time she was arrested by local authorities. The Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that the Indonesian Government was fighting to ensure a fair trial during Siti Aisyah’s judicial processs which lasted for more than 2 years. On this matter, President Jokowi has also expressed his gratitude following Siti Aisyah’s release.

The Government feels relieved because in the case of Siti Aisyah, fair trial principles in the judicial process in Malaysia had been properly implemented and she finally was able to avoid the death penalty. ICJR believes that these two things should also be applied in Indonesia, but unfortunately the Government hardly commits to ensure proper implementation of a fair trial as well as to hold back the death penalty’s requests by prosecutors in the national legal system.

In the 2018 Fair Trial Report in Indonesia composed by ICJR, it was found that the fulfilment of fair trial rights, for example related to the assistance of legal counsel was still problematic. The most basic problem is the low quality of lawyer who assists the suspect/defendant, resulting in the less optimal defense. On the other hand, ICJR suggests that one of the factors allowing a fair trial was granted in the Siti Aisyah’s case most likely relies on the best support and effort from the Indonesian Government in providing access to legal assistance for Siti Aisyah.

Furthermore, based on the ICJR’s research on the implementation of fair trial principles in death penalty cases launched in January 2019, the number of prosecutions for capital punishment in Indonesia is still high regardless the execution of death row inmates has not been carried out for the past 3 years. The prosecution of the death penalty cases was recorded towards as many as 59 people (2016), 32 people (2017), and 48 people (2018). Then, as of February 1, 2019 data from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights also showed that there were 235 death row inmates awaiting execution. Even as of October 2017, there were 42 death row inmates who had been serving a sentence in prison for more than 10 years. There is even an elderly, 80 years old, who has been sentenced to death since 35 years ago and but now he is still waiting on death row without certainty.

Therefore, in order to avoid a double standard on the Government’s efforts in ensuring the implementation of fair trial principles and the abolition of prosecution of death sentences experienced by Indonesian citizens abroad and those trial in Indonesia, ICJR recommends President Jokowi to order the Attorney General to hold back capital punishment’s requests during trial and to perform moratorium on the execution of the death penalty as the proper implementation of fair trial principles in Indonesia is still lacking. In order to ensure the proper implementation, a high standard in composing safeguard mechanisms of fair trial principles for all cases including death penalty cases must be employed in the Draft on Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP).

In addition, the Government should also start to introduce commutation of punishment or any mechanisms of changing sentences applicable for death row inmates who have been on death row for a long period. Besides it entails a double punishment for convicts, the death row inmates also have joined rehabilitation programs. This way, ICJR believes that such scheme will be a win-win solution for policing death penalty in Indonesia that has also been stated in the Draft on Penal Code.

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criminal lawdeath penaltyfair trial

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