Human Rights Commissioner criticises executions planned in Indonesia

27.07.2016 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (27 July) on the announcement that 14 people are to be executed in Indonesia:

I am seriously concerned at reports that 14 death sentences are about to be carried out in Indonesia. I call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to stop the application of the death penalty and to return to a moratorium on its use.

Capital punishment is a violation of the right to life, and the German Government opposes it no matter the circumstances. Implementing the death penalty is particularly questionable in cases where there is significant doubt as to the fairness of the legal proceedings. Human rights organisations report that there have been significant shortcoming in the proceedings against the condemned individuals in Indonesia, including a lack of legal representation and diplomatic assistance. Some of the judgements are based on confessions which may have been elicited under torture. I urge the Indonesian authorities not to carry out executions, to thoroughly investigate these claims and to clear up all doubts pertaining to the proceedings. Executing those who have been found guilty renders miscarriages of justice tragically irreversible.

Germany, like other international partners, stands ready to work with Indonesia to develop alternative forms of drugs policy. Numerous studies have shown that the death penalty is not an effective means of combating drug offences and is no more of a deterrent than long prison sentences. Under Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes. To impose it for drug offences is therefore a violation of international law.

Background information:

Indonesian criminal law provides for the death penalty for crimes such as murder, terrorism and trafficking illegal drugs. No death sentences were carried out in Indonesia between 2009 and 2012. Then, in spite of massive international protests, a number of people were executed in early 2015. After that, the Indonesian Government assured its international partners that it had ceased for the time being to implement the death penalty.

Fourteen people convicted of drug offences could be put to death by firing squad on Friday, 29 July. The group comprises four Indonesians and ten foreign nationals, most of them Nigerian. Human rights organisations report considerable shortcomings in the way the rule of law has been applied during the proceedings.

There are currently more than 130 people on death row in Indonesian prisons, almost half of them sentenced to death for drug offences. The Indonesian Government under President Widodo takes the view that drug abuse can only be combated by the alleged deterrent effect of capital punishment.

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