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UN human rights expert calls for immediate halt to further executions in Indonesia

Urgent appeal to Indonesia

13 February 2015

GENEVA (13 February 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, today urged the Indonesian Government to halt further executions of people convicted of drug-related offenses. Earlier this week, Indonesian officials announced that eight convicted drug traffickers would be executed by firing squad in the coming days.

“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, among other safeguards,” Mr. Heyns stressed.

“However, despite, several appeals by UN human rights experts and civil society organisations urging the Indonesian Government to reconsider imposing the death penalty for drug related offences, the authorities decided to execute six people by firing squad on 18 January 2015,” he noted.

According to available information, the 14 persons slated for execution in January – February 2015, did not get a fair trial. Twelve of them 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.

“Any death sentence must comply with international obligations related to the stringent respect of fair trial and due process guarantees, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a State party,” the human rights expert stressed.

“I previously expressed concerns over the imposition of death penalty for drug related offenses, and that such death sentences undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution”, Mr. Heyns said.

“I have urged Indonesia to restrict the use of the death penalty in compliance with its international obligations,” the expert said. “I regret that the authorities continue to execute people in violation of international human rights standards.”

The Special Rapporteur noted that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases. “All necessary measures, including clemency, should be adopted to halt further executions in the country,” he said.

“I urge the Government of Indonesia to establish a moratorium on execution with a view of its complete abolition, in order to comply with the international move towards the abolition of the death penalty,” the expert concluded.

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. Learn more, log on to:

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.

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