Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jun 2016
Source: Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Copyright: The Jakarta Post
Authors: Haeril Halim and Margareth S. Aritonang


Jokowi reinforces hard-line stance on drugs as more executions to 
take place Rights groups find irregularities in drug-related death row cases

As a third round of executions nears, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo 
commemorating the UN's International Day against Drug Abuse and 
Illicit Trafficking on Sunday, took the moment to bolster his tough 
stance on traffickers.

In a fiery appeal, Jokowi instructed the National Police and the 
National Narcotics Agency (BNN) to pursue, arrest and "smash" small-, 
medium-or big-time drug dealers operating in the country and even 
"shoot them on sight if existing law allowed it", to tell the world 
that Indonesia was serious in its fight against drugs.

"If [shooting on sight] were allowed by the law then I would have 
ordered the National Police and the BNN chief to do so, but luckily 
it is not. This extraordinary crime has affected not only adults, but 
also elementary school and kindergartenaged children," Jokowi said 
during the commemoration ceremony.

Narcotics are a chronic problem for the country with an estimated 5.1 
million drug abusers.

In the wake of a string of prison riots in the country, the Law and 
Human Rights Ministry raided the country's penitentiaries earlier 
this year and found that only 101 of a total 477 prisons were free of drugs.

Overcrowded prisons and lax oversight have turned prisons into 
drug-infested confinements in which many inmates fall into addiction.

Jokowi has taken a strong stance against drug trafficking ever since 
he took office, commanding the executions of 14 convicts who were 
mostly drug dealers.

Playing down criticisms of his tough drug law, the government has 
announced a plan to execute 18 death-row inmates after Idul Fitri, 
which will fall on July 6 this year. It has also planned to execute 
another 30 convicts next year.

The government has recorded that out of the total 152 convicts 
currently awaiting execution, 58 are drug offenders.

Scores of high-ranking officials have also been arrested for drug 
abuse in the past several years.

"Drug dealers always find ways to dupe law enforcers by exploiting 
parties that they would not suspect, such as women and children, as 
couriers. We have to stop this and redeclare Indonesia's war against 
drugs," said Jokowi.

Jokowi has conducted a number of bilateral visits to countries that 
strongly rejected his firm stance on executing drug traffickers, 
including Germany, where he was advised to stop such cruel 
punishment, but Jokowi has remained resolute to his commitment to 
Indonesia's fight against drugs.

However, the government has not completely slammed the door shut for 
countries trying to save their citizens from Indonesian capital punishment.

Last year, the government called off the executions of French 
national Serge Atlaoui and Philippine national Mary Jane Veloso, both 
convicted drug traffickers, following appeals from their respective 

Criticisms of the government's harsh punishment on drug-related 
crimes stem mostly from the country's perceived weak judicial system.

An investigation by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of 
Violence (Kontras), Imparsial and the Community Legal Aid Institute 
(LBH Masyarakat) has found irregularities in the legal process of 
seven death-sentence cases.

Alleged irregularities include the absence of an independent 
interpreter for convicted foreigners during the legal process, a lack 
of competent legal representatives and corruption.

The issue of a vulnerable legal process was also highlighted during a 
recent congress on capital punishment in Oslo.

"Many cases have proved that the death penalty was imposed on the 
innocent. This has happened even in countries with strong legal 
systems, such as the US. Imagine what happens in places where the 
legal system has collapsed.

In cases where personal dislikes and political division exists, 
decisions could be influenced by personal feeling and not based on 
law," said the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis.

Lambrinidis called for more countries to join the 150 states that 
have abolished the death penalty, arguing that such a punishment not 
only failed to deter criminals, but also destroyed the dignity of 
those who impose the punishment.

"Think about your dignity. I refuse to kill a killer because I refuse 
to allow him or her to turn me into a killer. It is my human dignity 
that I am defending. I will not bloody my hands because of what they 
did," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom