Friday, January 23, 2015

President Jokowi refuses to budge on clemency issue

 President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has once again rejected any possibility of compromise on capital punishment for drug offenders, regardless of their citizenship, arguing that rampant drug use has placed the country in a “state of emergency” over the years.

On Tuesday, a court in Vietnam also reportedly sentenced eight people, including two women, to death for heroin trafficking.

“Why do I say the country is in a state of emergency over drugs? Because the number of [illegal drug users] who need rehabilitation is nearly 4.5 million people,” Jokowi said, adding that 1.2 million drug users could not be rehabilitated and nearly 50 of them died each day.

Jokowi reiterated that he would reject requests for clemency for more than 60 drug convicts, both local and foreign citizens, who are currently on death row; and revealed that several heads of state had contacted him to annul the death sentences.“I’m confident the heads of state who contacted me are also under pressure there,” he said.

Indonesia recently sparked ire in the international community after carrying out the execution of six drug traffickers, five of whom were foreign nationals. Brazil and the Netherlands, whose citizens were among the executed, have recalled their ambassadors for consultation while calling the executions “cruel and inhumane.” Australia is still seeking clemency for its two citizens, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who are on death row for their involvement in the 2005 “Bali Nine” drug smuggling case.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday he still held out hope that Indonesia would not execute the two, saying mercy must play a part in the Indonesian justice system.“I hope that the evidence of genuine remorse, of genuine rehabilitation, means that even at this late stage pleas for clemency might be accepted,” Abbott told Sydney Radio WSFM as quoted by the Associated Press. However, he declined to say if Australia would withdraw its ambassador to Indonesia in protest if the Australians were executed.

The House of Representatives Commission I on defense and foreign affairs encouraged Jokowi’s administration on Tuesday to consistently turn down any pleas requested by foreign governments, including Australia, and applauded Jokowi’s firm position on executing drug smugglers despite mounting international protests.

“President Jokowi must consistently comply with the law. If convicts are already proven wrong, he must not be merciful to them; a stance the President took toward the recently executed inmates, including from Brazil and the Netherlands,” said Commission I deputy chairman Tantowi Yahya from the Golkar Party.

Attorney General HM Prasetyo said Indonesia would not bow to foreign pressure and would resume prioritizing the executions of drug convicts, regardless of their nationalities.“The most important thing is that Indonesia will not bow to foreign pressure in implementing the death penalty. It will continue. Indonesia must be rescued,” Prasetyo said.

Meanwhile, the UN Office over the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns on the continued use of the death penalty for drug crimes in parts of Southeast Asia.

On Tuesday, a court in Vietnam also reportedly sentenced eight people, including two women, to death for heroin trafficking.

The UN office called on President Jokowi to be open to clemency appeals from the convicts, as Indonesia had ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.”

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