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UN human rights expert urges Indonesian authorities to stop executions

GENEVA (28 March 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, today urged the Indonesian Government to restrict the use of the death penalty in compliance with its international obligations, after reportedly carrying out the first execution in the country since November 2008.

“I deeply regret that Indonesia executed Mr. Adami Wilson despite appeals by UN human rights experts and civil society organisations not to carry out executions for drug related offences,” he said. According to reports, Mr. Wilson was executed by firing squad in Jakarta on 14 March 2013.

After the execution, Indonesia’s Attorney General announced that 20 prisoners convicted and sentenced to death will be executed later in 2013. Reportedly, around 130 people are believed to be on death row in Indonesia and more than half of them have been convicted of drug-related offences.

“Such a practice is unacceptable,” Mr. Heyns stressed. “Under international law, the death penalty is regarded as an extreme form of punishment which, if it is used at all, should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, that is, those involving intentional killing, and only after a fair trial.”

The Special Rapporteur reiterated that “any death sentence undertaken in contravention of a State’s international human rights obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution, and is unlawful.”

Mr. Heyns recalled that, in the past, Indonesia voted against three consecutive resolutions of the UN General Assembly on a death penalty moratorium. However, in November 2012, the country, for the first time, abstained in a vote on this resolution*explaining that the death penalty was under review by national courts, and that a public debate on this issue was on-going in the country.

“It was then a promising and encouraging move,” said Mr. Heyns with the hope that Indonesia continues debating on the death penalty including consideration of a moratorium on executions.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Mr. Heyns’ research interests include international human rights law and human rights law in Africa. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

(*) Check the UN General Assembly resolution on a death penalty moratorium: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/gashc4058.doc.htm

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Indonesia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/IDIndex.aspx

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