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Rights groups call for end to executions

Government urged not to bow to public feeling

Bhatara Ibnu Reza urges Indonesia to Bhatara Ibnu Reza urges Indonesia to "think smart"
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • October 10, 2012
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A coalition of human rights groups yesterday urged the government to immediately strike the death penalty from the country’s statute books.

The coalition, which includes the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), and the Asian Human Rights Commission, issued the call to mark today’s World Day against the Death Penalty.

"It is time for Indonesia to think smart and introduce a civilized law which ensures that the right to life cannot be violated by anyone," said Bhatara Ibnu Reza, Imparsial’s director of operations at a press conference in Jakarta yesterday.

"Revocation of the right to life through legislation will never be a solution for law enforcement," he added.

The coalition called on the government to make positive changes and not get caught up in a political circus by favoring the death penalty to gain public sympathy.

The government’s implementation of capital punishment is often a demonstration of power ahead of general elections, Reza said.

He said the execution of 10 people in 2008 was politically motivated because the government wanted to show people it was firm on law and order ahead of elections in 2009.

All the speakers at yesterday's press conference said there is no evidence that capital punishment deters serious offences. Several cited an increase in violent crime in recent years.

Ineffective law enforcement has played a major role in this, the coalition said.

Deputy Justice Minister Denny Indrayana recently said soft punishments had emboldened people to commit a growing number of serious crimes, including large scale corruption.

According to KontraS, there are currently around 100 people on death row in Indonesia, 80 percent of them foreigners convicted on drugs charges. Execution is by firing squad in Indonesia.

The United Nations has issued non-binding resolutions in 2007, 2008 and 2010, calling for a global moratorium on the death penalty, which it hopes will lead to a total ban.

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