Convicted Australian drug smugglers Myuran Sukumaran, right, and Andrew Chan, left, the leaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling ring, may soon face the firing squad. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

Indonesia's Death Penalty Continues to Draw Criticism


FEBRUARY 03, 2015

Jakarta. When they were woken in the middle of the night six death row inmates would surely have known what was in store for them as they took their last walk outside the prison walls.

Six prisoners — five of them foreign nationals — were executed for drug smuggling on Jan. 18, with an additional 14 traffickers anticipated to face the death penalty this year.

Traditionally, execution is carried out at night by a firing squad of 12 soldiers. Only three have live rounds in their weapons, with the rest carrying blanks —  so no one can know who delivered the killer shot.

A beam of light lands on a spot marking the inmate’s heart to guide the aim of the firing squad.

In cases where bullets miss the vital organ, a commander will fire a point-blank shot to the temple.

This is the fate that awaits all of Indonesia’s death row prisoners under President Joko Widodo firm no-clemency stance.

Indonesian migrant worker Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad escaped the same fate in Saudi Arabia after the Indonesian government agreed to pay her victim’s family “blood money” in exchange for her life.

Satinah, 40, was found guilty of murdering her 70-year-old employer in 2007 and was sentenced to death four years later.

In an article published in the Jakarta Globe last week, Anis Hidayah, executive director of Migrant Care, a nongovernmental organization that advocates for the rights of migrant workers, said she welcomed the government’s actions.

“Finally, the public movement initiated by social media users has successfully touched the government’s arrogance, they can no longer ignore the fact that saving a citizen is the country’s responsibility,” Anis said.

However, the strong social media movement asking for the two Australian men on death row — Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran — to have their lives spared has done nothing to change the president's mind.

Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phelim Kine described this behavior as “hypocritical in the extreme.”

“Indonesia is executing drug traffickers while simultaneously asking to get clemency for Indonesian citizens on death row in foreign countries,” he said. “Nobody should be receiving the death penalty, [but] the Indonesian government [should be] balanced on how they apply the death penalty.”

International human rights law limits use of the death penalty to only “the most serious crimes,” resulting in death or grievous bodily harm.