• Press Release

Jokowi should not become the most prolific executioner in recent Indonesian history

July 28, 2016

The Indonesian authorities have told the relatives of 14 death row prisoners that they will execute them by firing squad tonight, Amnesty International has learned.

The 14 include four Indonesians, and ten foreign nationals – all convicted of drug-related offenses.

Contrary to Indonesian law and international standards, the families were only informed of the decision this morning. Indonesian law requires that relatives be informed at 72 hours in advance.

“Jokowi should not become the most prolific executioner in recent Indonesian history,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

“He still has time to pull back from these unlawful executions, before inviting global notoriety.”

If the executions are not halted, President Jokowi will have implemented the death penalty more times than in any South East Asian country, and more often than any Indonesian leader this century.

“The Indonesian authorities are proceeding with indecent haste. There are four clemency appeals that are still to be heard, and there are serious fair trial concerns about many prisoners’ cases.”

“At a time when a majority of the world’s countries have turned their back on this cruel and irreversible punishment, President Jokowi is recklessly hurtling in the wrong direction,” said Djamin.

Systemic flaws

Amnesty International has documented systemic flaws in Indonesia’s criminal justice system and its implementation of the death penalty.

The imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offenses violates international law, which only permits the use of the punishment for “the most serious crimes.”

These include violations of the right to a fair trial; the right not to be subjected to torture or to other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to apply for clemency or pardon of a death sentence; and foreign nationals or others who do not understand or speak the language used by the authorities are entitled to the assistance of an interpreter following arrest, including during questioning, and at all other stages of the proceedings.

Background information

Under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was President of Indonesia from 2004 to 2014, there were 21 executions. By tomorrow, President Jokowi could bring the total number of executions under his rule to 28 if they are not halted.

An Amnesty International report on Indonesia, Flawed Justice: Unfair Trials and the Death Penalty, published in October 2015 highlighted systemic flaws in the administration of justice resulting in violations of the right to fair trial, as outlined in the cases below of prisoners who are at imminent risk of execution at Nusakambangan Island:

Indonesian nationals Agus Hadi and Pujo Lestari were arrested for attempting to smuggle benzodiazepine pills from Malaysia in 2006. They were detained at Riau Islands Police Headquarters on November 22 that year, interrogated there for 20 days and then transferred to the Batam prosecution detention center. They were held in total for nine weeks before they appeared before a judge at their first trial hearing in the Batam District Court at the end of January 2007. Court documents indicate that Hadi only received assistance from a lawyer on December 12, 20 days after his arrest. Lestari had legal counsel appointed by the Batam District Court on February 8, 78 days after his arrest and a week after the court had scheduled the first trial hearing.

Indonesian national Merri Utami was arrested by the Soekarno Hatta Airport Police force after the police found 1.1kg of heroin in her bag on October 31, 2001. Utami told her current lawyer that shortly after her arrest the police repeatedly beat her, sexually harassed her and threatened her with rape to make her “confess” to possessing the drug; and that her sight has been damaged as a consequence of the beatings. She was convicted and sentenced to death in 2002. Her conviction and death sentence were upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003. She submitted an application for clemency to the President on 26 July 2016.

Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani national, was arrested at his home in Bogor, West Java province on November 21, 2004, and charged with possession of 300g of heroin based on his friend’s confession to the police. However during his trial, Ali’s friend retracted his statement that the heroin belonged to him. During his pre-trial detention, he was refused the right to contact his embassy and was not permitted any access to a lawyer until approximately one month after his arrest. Tangerang District Court documents show prosecution granted an extension of Ali’s detention from March 4 to May 2, 2005, meaning he was detained for at least three months before being brought to the first trial hearing, although there is no information as to when the first trial hearing started. Whilst being interrogated by the Soekarno-Hatta Airport district police, Ali was kept in a house for three days and punched, kicked and threatened with death unless he signed a self-incriminating statement, which he later did. After three days his health deteriorated to the extent that on November 24, 2004 he was sent to a police hospital, where he required stomach and kidney surgery due to damage caused by the beatings. He was in the hospital for 17 days. During his trial he described this torture, but the judges allowed the “confession” to be admitted as evidence. There has been no independent investigation into his allegations. Ali did not speak Bahasa Indonesia. He received limited translation assistance throughout his detention and during the proceedings against him. At the trial, he was provided with translation only from Bahasa Indonesia to English, but he understood only a little English. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005. His death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2006

.Humphrey Jefferson “Jeff” Ejike, a Nigerian man, who was arrested on August 2, 2003 in Jakarta for possessing drugs after police found 1.7kg of heroin in a room used by one of his employees at the restaurant he owned and ran. Ejike was convicted of and sentenced to death for offenses relating to the import, export, sale and trafficking of drugs in 2004. His conviction and sentence were upheld by the Jakarta High Court in June 2004 and the Supreme Court in November 2004. He did not have access to a lawyer at the time of his arrest, interrogation or detention. He was detained for a total of five months without legal representation, in breach of Article 14 of the ICCPR as well as Indonesia’s Criminal Procedure Code which guarantees the right to be assisted by and to contact counsel. He has claimed that he was repeatedly beaten during interrogation and threatened with being shot if he refused to sign papers in which he “confessed” to possessing the heroin or if he refused to implicate others. Trial records of April 2004, however, show that Jeff told the court that he was not subjected to any form of coercion, although he such statements are themselves sometimes made as a result of threats. The trial judgment includes the statement that “black-skinned people from Nigeria” are under surveillance by police because they are suspected of drug trafficking in Indonesia.

In November 2004, the former owner of Ejike’s restaurant, reportedly told police that he had organized for drugs to be planted in the restaurant so that Jeff would be arrested and convicted. The former owner later died in prison but several people testified that they had witnessed him making this confession while in prison on drug charges. Such witness statements formed part of an appeal for a review of Ejike’s case to the Supreme Court, which was rejected in September 2007. That same year the court upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty for drug offenses. He applied for clemency from the President of Indonesia just a few days ago. No execution must be carried out while legal or clemency procedures are pending.