Saturday, February 07, 2015

Death sentences may sink Indonesia's international image (Jakarta Post)


Death sentences may sink RI’s international image 

Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Wed, February 04 2015, 9:36 AM

Indonesia’s influence in the international community may be overshadowed by the scorn it is getting for the recent executions of drug traffickers, human rights activists say. 

Indonesia will find it difficult to bargain or to negotiate with other countries, especially if it is about human rights cases,” the Indonesian representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Rafendi Djamin, said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

In January, Indonesia shot six drug convicts dead, including convicts from the Netherlands and Brazil. Brazil and the Netherlands have recalled their envoys temporarily from Indonesia to protest the killing of their citizens.

Regarding the diplomatic fall-out, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said that Indonesia has “never been hostile” to other countries and it would maintain communications with those countries. 

Ricky Gunawan, the director of the Community Legal Aid Group (LBH Masyarakat), said that the Netherlands has provided assistance to Indonesia for a long time, especially to improve law enforcement.

“Netherlands has supported Indonesia in improving its justice system by providing training programs for its law enforcers. The fact that its citizen was executed may make them withdraw the support,” Ricky said.

He added that the relationship between Indonesia and Brazil was also very good, as the two countries had initiated a “from South to South” partnership.

Currently as many as 35 people from 15 countries are waiting to be executed after being convicted of drug trafficking. 

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has refused to grant clemency to eight drug traffickers. They include one each from Brazil, France, Ghana, the Philippines and Nigeria and two from Australia.

Rafendi predicted that the number of countries that will withdraw their support from Indonesia will increase if the government maintains the death penalty.

Besides losing more allies in the international community, Indonesia’s negotiations attempting to free its citizens from death sentences in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia may be rejected as well. 

“How can we ask for support from other countries to free our citizens from the death penalty, if we still punish people with the same sentence?” said Rafendi, who is also the executive director of the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG).

It has been reported that as many as 380 migrant workers from Indonesia are currently on trial and may face capital punishment in China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Of that number, 17 of them have been convicted and sentenced to death.

On Tuesday, Migrant Care Director Executive, Anis Hidayah, said that the negotiations to free the migrant workers was being hampered as Indonesia was still imposing the death sentence at home.

Both Ricky and Rafendi expressed disappointment that Indonesia has implemented a double standard in its strategy to protect human rights. 

“In the international community, Indonesia seems to respect human rights. In contrast, Indonesia violates human rights by imposing the death penalty. This is so embarrassing,” Rafendi said.

Indonesia ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2005. One of articles in the covenant stipulated that every state must protect the right to life.

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