Ambulances bring coffins for the drug convicts who were executed at Nusakambangan prison on Sunday at midnight. (Antara Photo/Idhad Zakaria)

Editorial: Respect Human Rights, Commute Death Sentences

JANUARY 17, 2015

President Joko Widodo will be responsible for the deaths of six people this weekend.

Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, Namaona Denis, Daniel Enemuo, Ang Kiem Soei, Tran Thi Bich Hanh and  Rani Andriani were all convicted of drug trafficking charges and sentenced to die. They all knew Indonesia held the death penalty for drug trafficking. Their crimes seem to have been motivated by greed and characterized by breathtakingly selfish stupidity.

Drug addiction ruins lives and is a social problem that requires prudent management by any state. However, it is not for a president to send them to the firing squad. The lives of these six people will end at midnight on Sunday in anguish, pain and blood -- the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Unless he changes his mind -- which looked unlikely on Saturday -- the international reputation of Jokowi the reformer and champion of the poor will be gravely harmed just months into his presidency. The right to life is the most fundamental right of the human being and it is not for any political leader to decide who lives and who dies.

Indonesia’s president should be doing all he can to save the lives of Indonesians on death row abroad. There are 45 Indonesians waiting around in Saudi Arabia to have their heads cut off. Most of them are poor domestic workers. By resuming executions, Joko is badly undermining Indonesia’s ability to advocate for its own condemned people.

"These executions must be stopped immediately. The death penalty is a human rights violation, and it is shocking that the Indonesian authorities are looking to put to death six people this Sunday,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s research director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

We could not agree more and call on the president to immediately commute the executions of these six people.