Eight Convicts Executed Despite World Leaders’ Appeal
[Updated at 1:55 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, to add statement from Amnesty International, minor changes]
Jakarta. Indonesia carried out the execution of eight drug convicts by firing squad on Nusa Kambangan prison island off Central Java early on Wednesday despite multiple efforts from human rights activists and united appeals from world leaders to stop the killings.
Those people executed were “Bali Nine” duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, both Australians; Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian diagnosed with a mental illness; Raheem Agbaje Salami, Martin Anderson, Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise and Okwudili Oyatanze of Nigeria; and Indonesian national Zainal Abidin.
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines was saved from Wednesday’s execution after President Joko Widodo met with several activists and ministers early in the day following a report that a woman who recruited Veloso had surrendered herself to Philippine authorities.
A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was initially part of this group to be executed, but he was granted a temporary reprieve after his lawyer managed to file a final appeal on the verge of the deadline on Thursday.
Amnesty International said in a press release that the executions showed “complete disregard for due process and human rights safeguards.”
“These executions are utterly reprehensible,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s research director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. “They were carried out with complete disregard for internationally recognized safeguards on the use of the death penalty.”
“The death penalty is always a human rights violation,” Abbott said in the press release, “but there are a number of factors that make today’s executions even more distressing. Some of the prisoners were reportedly not provided access to competent lawyers or interpreters during their arrest and initial trial, in violation of their right to a fair trial which is recognized under international and national law.”
“One of those executed today, Rodrigo Gularte, had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and international law clearly prohibits the use of the death penalty against those with mental disabilities. It’s also troubling that people convicted of drug trafficking have been executed, even though this does not meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’ for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law.”
Joko and other senior officials have repeatedly said that the executions were necessary to end the drug emergency Indonesia is ostensibly facing.
Executioners and a total of 12 ambulances carrying coffins had been deployed to Nusakambangan earlier on Tuesday.
“Each person will face 14 executors,” said the Central Java Police chief, Insp. Gen. Noer Ali. “There are nine people in total,” he added, apparently unaware that Veloso’s executed would be delayed.
The executions were carried out despite a last-minute appeal from Australia, France and the European Union.
“It is not too late for a change of heart,” the two countries and the EU said in the statement, urging Joko to cancel the executions.
“It is our honest hope that Indonesia can show mercy to the condemned prisoners.”
The statement says that the ideals of forgiveness and rehabilitation are just as fundamental to Indonesia’s justice system as they are to their own.
“In making this appeal, we ask that Indonesia also reflect on the impact on its global standing and international reputation. We support Indonesia’s efforts to secure clemency for its citizens abroad. Halting these executions would help its endeavors.”
Australia, France and the EU also expressed their support for the recent statement by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in which he called for Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the executions and urged Joko to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment.
“We fully respect Indonesia’s sovereignty. But we are strongly opposed to the death penalty at home and abroad,” they said.
“These executions will not deter drug trafficking or stop others from falling victim to drug abuse. To execute these prisoners now would achieve nothing.”
Ban as a Western stooge
France, Australia and Brazil have been the most vocal critics of Joko’s decision to carry out the executions.
A senior lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has criticized the UN chief for pleading with Joko not to execute the nine drug convicts on death row, implicitly accusing Ban of being a Western stooge.
“The death sentence is a positive law that applies in Indonesia and the judges’ verdict is legal,” said Tubagus Hasanuddin, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission I, overseeing international affairs.
“Ban Ki-moon’s stance has proven that the United Nations can easily be influenced by big countries like Australia and France.”
Tubagus said Ban’s statement, made through his spokesman last week, has undermined the UN’s authority.
“Capital punishment is still being used in many countries, like in the Middle East, Singapore, Malaysia and many other countries including the United States,” said Tubagus, a retired Army general who is now a lawmaker for Joko’s PDI-P.
“Why hasn’t Ban made a fuss about that, too? Is he upset because Jokowi criticized him at the Asian-African Conference?” he said, referring to the president’s statement calling for UN reform over its failure to eradicate global economic inequality.
Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, another PDI-P stalwart, has also said that Ban’s request would not change Indonesia’s stance on capital punishment.
“Even if there are a thousand UN secretary generals [making such a request], President Jokowi will still hold on to the court’s ruling,” Tjahjo said.
“The verdict was made by the judges, it is legally binding and has to be carried out.”
A Yogyakarta court earlier on Tuesday was said to have rejected the second appeal that Veloso had filed.
“The rejection for the second appeal filed by Veloso is based on the law that stipulates there will be no second appeal if the first one has been rejected,” Sleman District Court spokesman, Marliyus, told state-run news agency Antara.
The appeal was rejected only a few hours after it had been submitted by Veloso’s lawyer on Monday afternoon.
But Anies Hidayah of the Migrant Care said that with the surrender of Veloso’s recruiter it was clear that she was just a victim of human trafficking.
“We have conveyed it to President Jokowi, and I think this is a chance for her to escape execution,” she said after meeting with Joko.
Australian national Chan got married in prison on Monday, ahead of his execution, according to a media report.
Chan, a ringleader of the so-called “Bali Nine” gang, married his Indonesian girlfriend Febiyanti Herewila in the maximum-security prison on Nusakambangan island.
“They just got married. They held a simple wedding in the prison,” Chan’s brother, Michael Chan, told news portal Detik.com.
Michael said his brother had decided to hold a simple wedding because he knew he didn’t have much time left. “The time is limited and they knew there would be an execution on Tuesday. That’s why they decided to get married today,” the brother said on Monday.
Editorial: Acting in the Best Interests of Indonesia
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Source: The Jakarta Globe