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UN human rights experts urge Indonesia to halt new wave of executions

GENEVA (28 July 2016) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Indonesian Government to halt executions of people convicted of drug-related offences and to re-try them in compliance with international standards. Before the end of the week, 14 death row prisoners are scheduled to be executed by firing squad. All of them have been sentenced to death for drug related offences.

“Such death sentences are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution as they are undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations,” warned the UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns; on torture, Juan E. Méndez; and on the independence of the judiciary, Mónica Pinto.

Indonesia has rapidly become the South-East Asian region’s most prolific executioner state, with 19 executions in the last three years. The Government resumed executions in March 2013, after a four-year de facto moratorium, in a decision that was heavily criticised by the international community as running counter to the international trend towards the abolition of the death penalty.

According to reports, the Indonesian authorities are actively pursuing the policy of executing drug offenders sentenced to death, and exercise a blanket refusal to consider clemency applications in all such cases.

“Under international law, countries which have retained the death penalty may only impose it for the most serious crimes, that is, those involving intentional killing,” the human rights experts stressed. “Drug related offences do not meet this threshold.”

“Resorting to this type of punishment to prevent drug trafficking is not only illegal, it is also futile,” they said noting that “there is a lack of any persuasive evidence that the death penalty contributes more than any other punishment to eradicating drug trafficking.”

The experts underscored that most of the persons scheduled for execution this week did not get a fair trial nor exhaust their appeal avenues. Moreover, 10 are foreign nationals who generally have no adequate interpreting services, the right to a translator or a lawyer at all stages of trial and appeal.
“We have urged the Indonesian authorities once and again to reconsider imposing the death penalty for drug related offences or following judicial proceedings which fall short of international standards of fair trial and due process,” they added.

The UN Special Rapporteurs also expressed alarm at reports that at least four of those scheduled for execution were tortured and forced to incriminate themselves, and called on the authorities to urgently investigate, prosecute and sanction those abuses. “Confessions extracted under torture are impermissible in a court of law,” the experts underscored.

“We urge once again the Government of Indonesia to establish a moratorium on execution with a view of its complete abolition,” they concluded, urging the authorities to adopt all necessary measures to avoid further unlawful executions, including granting clemency.


(*) The experts: Mr. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Ms. Mónica Pinto, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Learn more, log on to:
Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx
Independence of the judiciary: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Judiciary/Pages/IDPIndex.aspx

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

For more information and media requests please contact Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 96 35/ bvukovic@ohchr.org), Jon Izagirre (+41 22 91 79715 / jizagirre@ohchr.org) or write to eje@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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