Indonesian activists hold candles during an anti-execution rally in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta in this July 28, 2016 file photo. Indonesia rejected call at a U.N. rights review hearing to abolish the death penalty. (Photo by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)
Indonesia has rejected the possibility of abolishing the death penalty at a United Nations hearing reviewing the country's human rights situation.
Abolishing the death penalty was one of the recommendations put to Indonesia by member states at the 27th session of the U.N. Universal Period Review in Geneva, Switzerland.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, who led the Indonesian delegation, rejected the recommendation, saying the death penalty was an integral part of President Joko Widodo's fight against narcotics, which she said was one of the top-three causes of death among Indonesian youths.
Catholic Church leaders in Indonesia immediately criticized the rejection.
Father Paulus Siswantoko of the Indonesian bishops' Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant People said the government's insistence on keeping the death penalty shows its failure to handle drug-related crimes.
The government has often argued the death penalty is a deterrent, but this is not the case, he said.
"Drug-related crimes and serious violence continue to occur unabated," he said.
Teguh Budiono, from the Community of Sant'Egidio, a Catholic lay group, said keeping the death penalty will perpetuate a culture of violence in society.
"Instead of providing a deterrent effect, this practice will only provide an affirmation of the passion of revenge," he said.