Monday, February 09, 2015

Indonesia must stop executions(Malaysiakini) - check out some readers' comments?

Below, you will also find some interesting comments from readers of Malaysiakini...

Indonesia must stop executions

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is disturbed by the recent execution of six persons in Indonesia in January 2015, and the possibility that many more will be executed in the near future.

Indonesia seems to have had an unofficial moratorium on executions for several years from 2008 but resumed capital punishment again in 2013. There were apparently no executions in 2014.

After President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo took office in October 2014, things changed. On or about Jan 18, 2015, six persons were executed by firing squad. Five foreigners and an Indonesian woman convicted on drug trafficking charges were killed.

President Joko says that Indonesia is in a “state of emergency” with regard to rampant drug trafficking across Indonesia, and he believes that this problem could be solved by executions. He is wrong, and Madpet reiterates that the death penalty does not deter drug offences.

In March 2012, it was revealed in the Malaysian Parliament by then-home minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent. Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase.

In 2009, 2,955 were arrested under this section. In 2010, 3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, 3,845 were arrested. (Free Malaysia Today, March 19, 2012, ‘Death penalty not deterring drug trade’)

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairperson Lee Lam Thye also did note in July 2013 that the death sentence had not deterred the drug trade.

It is also now accepted that many persons facing the death penalty for drug trafficking are really ‘mules’, many of whom are young people who have been tricked, or those who are financially disadvantaged.

Cases like that of Malaysian Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, 24, a graduate from a poor Malay family of rice farmers, and young Malaysian Yong Vui Kong who were once facing death for drug trafficking, who since then had their sentences commuted, have opened many eyes as to why the death penalty need to be abolished, especially for drug offences. Malaysia is seriously moving towards the abolition of the death penalty. 

Indonesia needs to consider the Malaysian experience, and immediately put a stop to its plans to execute even more convicted drug traffickers. There is really no empirical evidence to support the notion that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent to the commission of crimes.

Further, no criminal justice legal system in the world is foolproof, error-free or fail-safe.  In the instance of the death penalty, there is no opportunity to correct an error, as the execution of the death sentence is irreversible. We recall the Taiwan case of Chiang Kuo-ching, a private in the air force, who was executed in error in 1997 for a murder, which the Taiwan government did admit was an error in 2011.

UN Resolution to establish moratorium

On Dec 18, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. One hundred and seventeen member states voted in favour of the resolution, 38 voted against and 34 abstained. This was the fifth time a resolution on this issue has been passed.

In December 2012, being the last time, 111 states voted in favour, 41 against and 34 abstained. In 2007, only 104 nations that supported. In 2008, this increased to 106. In 2010, 108 countries voted in favour and now in 2014, 117 member countries voted in favour. There is no doubt that the global community is more and more for the abolition of the death penalty.

Indonesia, being a member nation of the global community, should adhere to these UNGA Resolutions and immediately establish a moratorium on all executions in Indonesia.

It has been reported that President Joko has stated that he will reject the clemency petitions for all drug traffickers on death row, which is about 57 persons. This is certainly not proper or just, for each and every application for clemency should be considered separately and without prejudice by the president on its merits. (Jakarta Post, Jan 30, 2015).

The presidential power to grant clemency is most important in death penalty cases as this the last  safeguard against wrongful conviction and therefore wrongful execution.

Madpet urges Indonesia to immediately stop any further executions, and immediately comply with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution and establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

CHARLES HECTOR is a coordinator of Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet).
Some of the comments from Malaysiakini readers:-
Capital punishment is a dated form of punishment based on the idea of a life for a life. As a legal form of punishment it has been found to be unjust when innocent people have been executed. Do we then hold the judges accountable and execute them also for taking innocent lives? Mercy triumphs over judgement is a higher moral standard we should adopt. Mandatory death sentencing of drug-related crimes is wrong. Governments find it expedient to blame the drug pusher for the drugs problem and executing them makes them appear to act tough. But executions of drug pushers is a failed strategy. It may deter some, not the big bosses. Corrupt police and governments work hand in gloves with drugs cartels we know. Executions in fact protect the masterminds who simply find replacements among the poor, desperate and gullible to do their dirty work. MADPET could read Malaysians Against Death Penalty End Torture! Keep up your drive to save lives. I support you. 
  Life sentence is more humane than executions without mercy! Remember the addicts themselves must take responsibility, too! They make the choice to "consume" the drugs in the first place! Are we going to execute those who sell alcohols because of alcoholics and their abusive ways and behaviour towards families and society? Shouldn't those who sell cigarettes be executed as well because smokers pollute our air and give themselves and the passive smokers lung cancer? Shouldn't we also execute pimps who provide prostitutes to ruin families, marriages and society? I can go on and on.... I condemn death-penalty against "criminals" who did not commit murder!
 Executing (murdering) or maiming prisoners is barbaric and an act by only uncivilised society. Lock the offenders up so they can't perprtuate further crimes and if they're subsequently found rehabilitated, free them
Whatever the arguments for or against Death Penalty, especially on Drug offenses, I feel death penalty is an overdose of punishment. I would like to offer a lesser punishment something like "hudud" by removing the thumb of the right hand as a first offense, then of the left hand for second offense and for the third offense, I suggest to chop off the head. Good riddance. Today when you go to war, you kill people at random, which to me is crime against humanity. Similarly, drug abuse is a war against humanity too; but with lesser damage, thence lesser punishment.

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