ASEAN rep rues Indonesia execution

Indonesia’s representative on ASEAN’s human rights committee says he’s now on the back foot in any talks on abolishing the death penalty.

Source: AAP
27 Jan 2015 – 1:48 AM  UPDATED 9 HOURS AGO

Indonesia’s representative on ASEAN’s human rights commission regrets his country has regressed on the death penalty, missing a chance to lead in the region.

Rafendi Djamin says Indonesia could be encouraging its neighbours Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia towards abolishing capital punishment.

“We have been trying to convince other countries in the region to have a death penalty moratorium,” he told AAP.

“But now, it’s like we’re refusing to lead the way.”

President Joko Widodo is backing the execution of 64 drug offenders on death row, to show he is serious about winning the war on narcotics.

Six people were sent to the firing squad last week, and Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, of the Bali Nine heroin trafficking attempt, could be next.

Under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty that lasted four years.

Mr Djamin says Mr Joko’s policy is a swift reversal.

“Under SBY, clemency was looked at case by case,” he said.

“President Jokowi’s statement that he will reject clemency in general for all drugs cases does not respect individual rights.”

Mr Joko, known better as Jokowi, has defended the executions with National Narcotics Board (BNN) research showing up to 50 drug deaths every day in Indonesia.

But Mr Djamin says the president ignores other advice.

Many of the 189 people sentenced to death in the past 25 years were drug offenders, he said, “so where’s the deterrent effect?”

A long-time rights advocate internationally, Mr Djamin says Indonesia has also taken too lightly the recall of ambassadors to The Netherlands and Brazil in protest of their citizens’ executions.

“This was not some random act,” he said of the diplomatic retreats.

“The fact that the king of (The Netherlands) makes efforts to save one of his citizens and then recalls his ambassador, that’s something serious.”

The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights meets next month and Mr Djamin holds his position until the end of the year.

His comments follow concerns from former constitutional court judge Jimly Asshiddiqie, that Indonesia looks increasingly inconsistent on the death penalty.

While it lobbies for its citizens on death row overseas to be pardoned, it’s again enacting the death penalty on home soil.

Lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran are preparing a final court challenge to their death sentences, after Mr Joko denied them clemency.