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Rights activists demand Indonesia end use of death penalty

Calls made as country prepares next round of executions

Rights activists demand Indonesia end use of death penalty

The sister of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia, joins Philippine protesters in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila on Jan. 1. Veloso faces execution on drug charges. (Photo by AFP)

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

April 14, 2016

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Anti-death penalty activists are urging the Indonesian government to stop killing prisoners after reports emerged that the government is preparing its next round of executions. 

The Indonesia Coalition on the Abolition of Death Penalty said in an April 13 statement that Indonesia should move with other countries toward a world that bans "torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." 

The statement noted that Indonesia ratified the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1998. 

The coalition, representing organizations and institutions including the Indonesian bishops' human rights advocacy, referred to Amnesty International's recently released report on capital punishment "Death Sentences and Executions 2015" that said there was a 54 percent increase in executions globally.

Amnesty's report said at least 1,634 people were executed during 2015, 573 more than in 2014. 

The coalition noted that four countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes. 

"Such tendency of the states to abolish the death penalty remains high as they believe that the death penalty is against human logic," the report said.

On April 8, Indonesian Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo told the Jakarta Globe that executions of drug traffickers would resume following the completion of his office's inventory of death-row inmates.

In 2015, 14 people were executed in Indonesia. All the executions were carried out for drug trafficking.

Marzuki Darusman of the Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards said the government's assertion that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to drug abuse and other serious crimes cannot be proven.

"Based on the National Narcotics Board's data, the number of drug users in Indonesia increased after the death penalty resumed," he said.

Meanwhile, Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the bishops' forum, said the government's reliance on the death penalty has placed Indonesia in a poor light internationally.

"It's only in Indonesia that a president feels proud of executing people," he said.

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