ICJR calls for Government Assurance on “Indonesian Way” of Death Penalty

The administration of President Joko Widodo introduced the commutation mechanism for the death penalty as criminal punishment. This mechanism applies when there is no execution being done in 10 years of waiting period, the punishment would be commuted from death penalty to life imprisonment. If the Government is serious on this, there are 43 death row inmates who are eligible to receive the commutation.

Based on compiled data from various sources, e.g. prosecution, court decisions and media tracking done by ICJR’s researches, it was found that throughout the 20 years of reform era (1998-2018) there are 393 death penalty cases in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo’s administration is recorded as the one with the highest number of death penalty prosecution, namely 181 cases, with the highest number in 2015 as many as 84 prosecutions with the death penalty as punishment. Out of these cases, there are 103 sentenced to death. Throughout President Joko Widodo’s 4 years administration, 18 people were executed in 3 waves (18 January 2015, 29 April 2015, and 26 July 2016).

Currently, Indonesia is one of 56 countries that still use the death penalty as punishment in its criminal justice system. Indonesia is also listed as one of 33 countries in the world that still impose death penalty as punishment for narcotics crime. Whereas the total number of countries that have abolished death penalty in its positive law and practice has reached 142 countries.

On the other hand, the drafting team of the Draft Bill of Penal Code in President Joko Widodo’s Administration introduced an “Indonesian way” of death penalty in the Draft Bill. It is worded that death penalty should be used alternatively as a last resort in order to protect society. With this mechanism, the Government recommended that the death penalty sentence can be commuted through a presidential decree if for 10 years the death row inmates show good behavior. The death penalty is also automatically commuted through a presidential decree if the death rows inmates are not executed in 10 years after the clemency request is rejected.

Based on ICJR data from the Directorate General of Correctional Affairs, prior to October 2017, there are 165 death rows who are on the waiting list uncertainly waiting for the execution. 43 among them have been serving their jail time for more than 10 years. 30 death row inmates were commuted to 11-15 years of imprisonment, 10 death row inmates were commuted to 16-20 years of imprisonment, and 1 death row inmate was commuted for 21-25 years of imprisonment. In fact, there is 1 death row inmate who has been on the list for 35 years reached his 80’s birthday in the detention center.

Total death row per October 2017           : 165 inmates

More than 10 years on the death row     : 43 inmates

11 – 15 years on the death row                : 30 inmates

16 – 20 years on the death row                : 1 inmate

If the government is committed to regulating death penalty by guaranteeing a commutation after a 10-years of waiting period, then President Joko Widodo must firstly issue decisions on the clemency requests of the 43 death row inmates who have passed their 10 years waiting period. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2012 has stated that the phenomenon of “waiting period for the execution” is a form of inhumane treatment that violates the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Indonesia is a party to this convention and has ratified this convention through Law No. 5 of 1998 on 28 September 1998. Indonesia has committed to take actions in the legislation, administration or other effective measures to prevent cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment, including the waiting period for the execution.

Moreover, in the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) the recommendation to “Consider establishing a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the Death Penalty” and to “Ensure the respect of the right to a Fair Trial” were supported by Indonesia.

On this matter, ICJR asserts that there is no reason for President Joko Widodo and his administration to carry out the execution. If it is true that the idea to regulate death penalty as an alternative punishment is “Indonesian way”, then the President must first issue Presidential Decree to commute the punishment for the 43 death row inmates who have passed their 10 years waiting period. The uncertain status of these death row has resulted in continued human rights violations for these inmates, causing psychological trauma and deterioration of health.

ICJR calls for the President Joko Widodo:

  1. Establish policies for the Attorney General Office to conduct a moratorium on death penalty
  2. Ensure and guarantee the right of a fair trial is fulfilled in every trial by recommending the AGO not to use death penalty in the prosecution
  3. Issuing a Presidential Decree to commute the death penalty sentences against death row inmates who have undergone a waiting period of more than 10 years as a concrete step by the president to respect human rights

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