Indonesia: Newly amended anti-terror law threatens to undermine human rights

Indonesia: Newly amended anti-terror law threatens to undermine human rights

Reacting to the decision of the House of Representatives on Friday to pass into law the revision of the anti-terrorism bill, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said:

“The newly-passed law contains a number of draconian articles that threaten to undermine human rights in Indonesia. The law erodes safeguards against arbitrary detention and against torture and other ill-treatment, as well as expanding the scope of the application of the death penalty. Plans to deploy the military in counter-terrorism operations are also deeply concerning.

“The vagueness of some of the law’s wording could be used by authorities to restrict freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly or misused to label peaceful political activities as terrorism. This lack of clarity violates the requirement under international human rights law that  criminal law must be formulated with enough precision for people to understand what conduct is prohibited.

“To protect the right to a fair trial and safeguard against torture and other ill-treatment, authorities must ensure that detainees are not restricted in their access to lawyers and that regular contact with family members or a relevant third party is guaranteed. Authorities must also ensure that the implementation of the law is in line with Indonesia’s obligations regarding the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Background

The government proposed amendments to the anti-terror law in January 2016 in the wake of a terror attack in Jakarta which killed eight people. The amendment process at the parliament was in limbo for around two years until May 2018. However, the process was fast-tracked in the past two weeks following a series of bomb blasts and attacks against police officers and people attending services in several Christian churches in the provinces of West Java, East Java and Riau, that killed at least 39 men, women and children and injured around 50 others between May 8 and May 16, and completed this morning.

The Anti-Terrorism Law now grants police powers to hold suspects for up to 221 days without being brought to court – a blatant violation of the right of anyone arrested on a criminal charge to be brought promptly before a judge and be tried within a reasonable time or be released

Amnesty International Indonesia has written an open letter to parliament outlining its concerns about the new law.

Indonesia: Proposed law that keeps death penalty as ‘alternative sentence’, 10 year before execution with possibility of commutation

Compromise reached on death penalty

  • The Jakarta Post

Capital punishment has been designated an “alternative sentence” in the Criminal Code revision bill currently awaiting passage in the House of Representatives, in a compromise to appease both public opinion and human rights groups.

Under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration, 18 death row inmates, all of whom were convicted of drug-related crimes, were executed.

Fifteen of the 18 executed were foreigners, prompting international outcry and sparking diplomatic tensions between Indonesia and important allies such as Australia and the European Union.

However, despite condemnation from both foreign and domestic human rights groups, capital punishment remains highly popular in Indonesia. According to a 2015 Indo Barometer survey, 84.9 percent of Indonesians approved of sentencing drug dealers to death, while a 2016 Kompas survey showed that 89.3 percent approved of the death sentence for terrorists.

Nasdem lawmaker Taufiqulhadi acknowledged the death penalty had been a matter of ongoing debate among the lawmakers in the bill’s working committee, but said making it an alternative punishment was a “way out.”

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly had previously called the move “a win-win solution.”

Article 89 of the bill states: “The death penalty will be imposed as an alternative and as a last resort to protect society.”

The bill goes on to say convicts that receive the death penalty will be given a 10-year probation period, after which their sentence may be commuted to a life sentence or to a 20-year prison sentence at the discretion of the law and human rights minister.

In the current legal system, a death sentence can only be changed through the Supreme Court (MA) or through presidential clemency.

Activists acknowledged the move as a step forward, but remained adamant in their conviction that the death penalty was both inhumane and ineffective.

“It’s true that this is progress,” said Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) researcher Adzkar Ahsinin. “And it is probably the most realistic step that we can hope for.”

Community Legal Aid Foundation director Ricky Gunawan echoed his sentiment. “In an ideal situation, of course we hope for total abolition,” he said. “But in a country that only two years ago conducted executions on such a massive scale, this is a small step that should be appreciated.”

Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) legal expert Erasmus Napitupulu said that adding a waiting period between conviction and execution was better than the current system, but said the bill did not go far enough.

“There are still many crimes that are eligible for the death penalty that do not meet the criteria set out in the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR],” he said.

The ICCPR states that the death penalty should be restricted to only the “most serious crimes,” which have been defined as “intentional crimes with lethal consequences.”

The bill, in contrast, allows capital punishment for treason, corruption and drug-related crimes.

Erasmus also questioned the government’s and the House’s rationale for insisting on keeping the death penalty. “The government keeps saying it provides a deterrent effect. But it has never shown any evidence that the deterrent effect actually exists. It is a myth that is continually repeated.”

Adzkar agreed, saying: “We have put forward several arguments against the death penalty, but the House insists on keeping it in, often citing religious arguments.”

Erasmus said it was difficult to refute these arguments; capital punishment is allowed in the Quran, and some lawmakers saw the abolition of the death penalty as a refutation of Islamic teachings.

Ricky acknowledged the improbability of abolishing capital punishment in the current climate. “Politically, in Indonesia at this time, it does not seem possible to abolish the death penalty entirely,” he said. “It would be risky and would invite a lot of criticism, and national leadership has not made human rights a priority.”

He hoped the House would be able to clarify the criteria for sentence commutation and possibly move the decision-making power away from the executive branch. (kmt)

Indonesia:- Death penalty prosecutions in Indonesia nearly doubled over last year

Death penalty prosecutions in Indonesia nearly doubled over last year, activists call for moratorium

Executions are down but death penalty prosecutions are up over the last year of President Joko Widodo’s administration. Photo: @Jokowi / Instagram

Tomorrow, October 10, is World Day Against the Death Penalty, and human rights activists in Indonesia used the opportunity to highlight an alarming increase in death penalty prosecutions over the last year, a trend that runs counter to the narrative that President Joko Widodo is softening his stance on executions.

Under President Jokowi’s administration, 14 people were executed in 2014, four were executed in 2016 and none have been executed so far this year. But in contrast to the downward trend in executions, the number of cases involving the death penalty has risen sharply over the last year.

From January-June 2016 there were 26 cases in which prosecutors demanded the death penalty and, out of those, judges in 17 of the cases sentenced the defendants to be executed. But from July 2016 to September 2017, there were 45 cases in which prosecutors asked for the death penalty and 33 in which judges handed out the sentence.

“Compared to 2016, the trend of death penalty demands and sentences, based on the number of cases, nearly doubled,” said the director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), Supriyadi Widodo, during a discussion in Jakarta on Sunday as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Supriyadi said most of the death penalty cases involved drug trafficking, followed by murder cases. But he noted there was a new category of death penalty case, suspects accused of child sexual assault, a crime which became eligible for the death penalty under a new law passed by President Jokowi in 2016, which contributed to the increased numbers.

There are currently 134 people on Indonesia’s execution waiting list and the attorney general has stated recently that they are still planning on carrying them all out eventually, although no dates have been mentioned.

ICJR asked that Indonesia declare a moratorium on the death penalty while the process in which criminals can be convicted and appeal the sentence be reviewed for violations of human rights. Supriyadi noted that one of the last people executed by the government, Humphrey Jefferson “Jeff” Ejike, had been denied the ability to exercise all of his appeal options before he was killed.

“Under conditions of uncertainty and doubt regarding executions, the government should immediately conduct a moratorium to avoid the great potential for human rights violations,” he said.

Speaking at the same discussion, Ifdhal Kasim, an advisor on political, legal and human rights issues at the Presidential Staff Office, said it was unlikely the administration would declare a moratorium as the government believed that the death penalty was an effective deterrent to fight the so-called drug emergency facing the country.

Source: Coconut Jakarta, 9/10/2017