Indonesia: stop executions and abolish the death penalty

The ICJ urged the Government of Indonesia today to stop the imminent execution of nine persons convicted of drug-related offenses.

The ICJ emphasized that the death penalty constitutes a denial of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.

Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s Senior Legal Advisor, said: “The government is trying to send the message that it is forcefully cracking down on crime, especially on drug-related offenses. Extinguishing the lives of nine people will almost certainly not serve to reduce crime, but it will clearly subvert human rights and the rule of law.”

Recent studies have called into question the notion of any meaningful deterrent effect of capital punishment on the commission of crimes, the ICJ says.

“Indonesia, by imposing the death penalty on those convicted in drugs related cases, is violating its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Gil added.

Indonesia is a State Party to the ICCPR, having acceded to it in 2006.

The ICJ opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception.

In line with the plea by the UN General Assembly in repeated resolutions, the ICJ calls on the Government of Indonesia, as a first step, to establish a moratorium with a view of abolishing the death penalty in the near future.


Nine persons are scheduled to be executed in the next few days: Myuran Sukumaran (Australia), Andrew Chan (Australia), Mary Jane Veloso (Philippines), Rodrigo Gularte (Brazil), Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise (Nigeria), Okwudili Oyatanze (Nigeria), Martin Anderson (Ghana), Zainal Abidin (Indonesia), and Rahem Agbaje (Nigeria).

Last month, the UN Human Rights Committee strongly criticized Indonesia for its failure to respond to the Committee’s call in 2013 to stop executing prisoners for drug-related crimes.

After a regular review of Indonesia’s human rights record, the Committee in August 2013 urged the State to reinstate the de facto moratorium on the death penalty and to ensure that, if capital punishment was maintained, it was only for the most serious crimes, which do not include drug-related offences.

In December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, for the fifth time since 2007, emphasizing that that the use of the death penalty undermines human dignity and calling on those countries that maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use with a view to its abolition. A majority of 117 UN Member States voted in favor of a worldwide moratorium on executions as a step towards abolition of the death penalty, with only 37 opposed.


Emerlynne Gil, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, in Bangkok, t: +66840923575, e: emerlynne.gil(a)

Photo: aerial view of a prison on Nusakambangang, the island where the executions take place.

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