"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Indonesia: Executions will put Jokowi on the wrong side of history

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as ‘Jokowi’, will be putting his government on the wrong side of history if he proceeds with a fresh round of executions, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty International received credible reports that at least 14 people could be executed this week, who consist of four Indonesian and ten foreign nationals, including a Pakistani, an Indian, a Zimbabwean, a Senegalese, a South African, and five Nigerians.

“President Widodo’s era was supposed to represent a new start for human rights in Indonesia. Sadly, he could preside over the highest number of executions in the country’s democratic era at a time when most of the world has turned its back on this cruel practice,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

Amnesty International has learned that at least a dozen death row prisoners could be executed as soon as this weekend, many of them for drug offences. The organization is also concerned that some of the prisoners who could face the firing squad were convicted in manifestly unfair trials and have not submitted clemency request to the President.

n a report published by Amnesty International last year, the organization found that in 12 cases defendants were denied access to legal counsel at the time of their arrest, and at different periods thereafter. Some claimed they were subject to torture and other ill-treatment while in police custody, and were forced to “confess” to their alleged crimes. To date, these claims have not been investigated by the authorities.

The Indonesian government’s decision to go ahead with a third round of executions has already met with an appeal for clemency by Pakistan and many others.

The Pakistani authorities have called on their Indonesian counterparts to halt the execution of Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani national and textile worker, who has described how he was tortured in custody and has spent more than a decade on death row for a drug offence. During his pre-trial detention, he was refused the right to contact his embassy and was not permitted any access to a lawyer until approximately one month after his arrest.

“As the case of Zulfiqar Ali shows, international law has been repeatedly violated in death penalty cases, from the time of arrest, throughout the trial, and at appeal stage. Regardless of what we think of the death penalty, no one must have their life decided on the basis of such flawed proceedings,” said Josef Benedict.

“The international community should be alarmed by the revival of executions, and other countries should speak up for those facing the death penalty in Indonesia.”

The decision to resume executions is also proving controversial inside the country, including opposition from religious clerics and parliamentarians.

Indonesia has a strong record of fighting for the rights of its citizens abroad on death row, but that is a position that the authorities do not consistently uphold at home, where President Widodo has claimed that the death penalty is needed to deter drug crime.

“There is no evidence to support President Widodo’s position. The death penalty does not deter crime. Carrying out executions will not rid Indonesia of drugs. It is never the solution, and it will damage Indonesia’s standing in the world,” said Josef Benedict.

“If President Widodo is serious about claiming a place for Indonesia on the world stage and as a leader for the region, he cannot ignore its human rights obligations. The first step towards that must be a moratorium on executions with a view to ridding Indonesia of the unjust punishment once and for all.”

Source: Amnesty International, July 26, 2016


TAKE ACTION NOW!

President Joko Widodo
President of Republic of Indonesia
Istana Merdeka
Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia
Fax: +62 21 386 4816 /+62 21 344 2233
Email: ppid@setkab.go.id
Salutation: Dear President

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia
to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN
325 East 38th Street
New York, N.Y. 10016
Tel: (212) 972-8333; Fax: (212) 972-9780
E-mail: indonesia2@un.int

Attorney General (Jaksa Agung)
H. M. Prasetyo
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1, Jakarta Selatan
Jakarta 12160,
Indonesia
Fax: +62 21 722 1269 / +62 21 725 0213
Email: humas_puspenkum@yahoo.co.uk
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia (Komnas HAM)
Chairman
Jalan Latuharhary No.4-B
Jakarta 10310 Indonesia
Tel.: +62 21 392 5227-30
Fax: +62 21 392 5227
E-mail: info@komnas.go.id

U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia
Embassy of the United States to Indonesia
Jl. Merdeka Selatan 4-5
Jakarta 10110, Indonesia
Phone (62-21) 344-2211; Fax: (62-21) 386-2259
E-mail: jakconsul@state.gov
Twitter: @usembassyjkt


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Indonesia gives death row inmates 72 hours notice of impending executions

Indonesia has given a group of death row inmates 72 hours notice before they face the firing squad.

Lawyers for some of the group have told the ABC their clients may seek last-minute clemency from President Joko Widodo, meaning their executions could be delayed.

It will be the first round of executions since Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan faced the firing squad in April last year, and the third round endorsed by the current President.

The country's Attorney-General's office, which oversees executions, would not confirm any details but spokesman Mohammad Rum said: "The time is approaching."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has spoken out against the looming executions.

Speaking at an ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Laos, Ms Bishop said she raised Australia's opposition to the death penalty with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

She said Australia's position came as no surprise to Indonesia, given the strong comments from the Government last year before the executions of Chan and Sukamaran.

Five other foreigners were also put to death in the executions, which sparked international outrage.

But Mr Widodo has insisted Jakarta is fighting a war against drugs and traffickers must be harshly punished.

Diplomats, rights groups pressure Indonesia to halt executions

Deputy Pakistani ambassador in Jakarta Syed Zahid Raza said the convicts, including a Pakistani, could be executed around midnight Friday.

Pakistan has so far publicly voiced the most concern about the upcoming executions, and its foreign ministry summoned the Indonesian ambassador to Islamabad to convey their concerns about the case of their national, 52-year-old Zulfiqar Ali.

Activists said Mr Ali, sentenced to death in 2005 for heroin possession, was beaten and tortured into confessing and did not receive a fair trial.

Rights groups have also called on Indonesia to halt the planned executions, citing worries about irregularities with some convictions.

In a statement, Amnesty International urged "the country's authorities to halt all executions and to take immediate steps to ensure that the cases of all those under sentence of death are reviewed by an independent and impartial body".

There have also been concerns over the case of a female Indonesian drug convict, Merri Utami, who is among the group.

Rights group the National Commission on Violence Against Women said the former domestic worker was tricked into trafficking heroin.

Authorities have been making preparations, with death row drug convicts transferred to Nusakambangan prison island, where Indonesia puts convicts to death, and 14 prisoners reportedly placed in isolation — an usual step before executions.

About 1,500 police were being deployed around Cilacap, the town closest to Nusakambangan, visitors have been barred for a week and Muslim and Christian spiritual counsellors were seen crossing to the island.

Indonesia — which has some of the toughest anti-drugs laws in the world — executed 14 drug convicts, mostly foreigners, in two batches last year.

Source: ABC/AFP, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Connecticut: Komisarjevsky resentenced to life term

Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A man condemned to die for killing a woman and her two daughters during a 2007 home invasion was resentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of release because the state abolished the death penalty.

A state judge in New Haven resentenced Joshua Komisarjevsky to six consecutive life terms.

He became the third Connecticut death row inmate to have his sentence changed to life in prison since the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled last year that the death penalty violated the state constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Eight other condemned inmates await resentencing.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes were sentenced to death for killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela. Dr. William Petit Jr., Hawke-Petit's husband and the girls' father, was severely beaten but survived.

Hayes was resentenced last month to life in prison.

The Petit family chose not to attend the hearing Tuesday because they had nothing to add to their remarks at the first sentencing of Komisarjevsky in 2012, prosecutor Gary Nicholson said.

"July 23, 2007, was our personal holocaust," Dr. Petit said the day Komisarjevsky was sentenced to death. "A holocaust caused by two who are completely evil and actually do not comprehend what they have done."

Dr. Petit, now running for a seat in the state legislature, opposed abolition of Connecticut's death penalty.

Komisarjevsky's lawyers had worked to spare him the death penalty by describing sexual abuse he endured as a child. The jury and the judge — who had been subjected to grim evidence including pictures of charred beds, rope used to tie up the family and autopsy photos — were unmoved.

Komisarjevsky's appeal of his convictions remains pending.

The killings culminated hours of terror in the Petits' home in Cheshire, a suburb north of New Haven.

Komisarjevsky had followed Hawke-Petit and Michaela from a supermarket to their house. Komisarjevsky and Hayes returned to the Petit house in the middle of the night while the family was sleeping to rob it.

Dr. Petit was beaten and tied up in the basement. Michaela and Hayley were tied to their beds. In the morning, Hayes took Hawke-Petit to a bank to withdraw money. Komisarjevsky stayed at the house and sexually assaulted Michaela. Hayes was convicted of sexually assaulting the mother.

After Hayes and Hawke-Petit returned to the home, Hayes strangled her. Komisarjevsky and Hayes then doused the house and beds with gasoline, set it ablaze and fled. They were caught after crashing the Petits' car into police cruisers.

The sisters, bound while flames and fumes rose around them, died of smoke inhalation.

Dr. Petit survived after escaping the basement while the house was on fire.

Source: Republican American, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Pfizer: Arkansas execution would 'misuse' drug

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An execution drug obtained by the Arkansas prison system this month appears to have been made by a subsidiary of Pfizer, even though the pharmaceutical giant has said it doesn't want its drugs to be used in executions.

The sale of the vecuronium bromide by an unknown third party may show how difficult it could be for manufacturers to prevent such sales in states such as Arkansas that have execution secrecy laws.

The Associated Press on Monday obtained redacted photos of the vecuronium bromide label from the Arkansas Department of Correction. It matches labels submitted to the National Institutes of Health by Hospira, Inc., which Pfizer bought last year. The AP also obtained the purchase orders for the drug, but the name of the third party that sold the drug to the department was redacted, in compliance with the state's execution secrecy law.

Pfizer announced in May it had put in place sweeping controls to make sure its distributors would not sell its drugs for use in executions. In an email Monday, company spokeswoman Rachel Hooper reiterated that position.

"We have implemented a comprehensive strategy and enhanced restricted distribution protocols for a select group of products to help combat their unauthorized use for capital punishment. Pfizer is currently communicating with states to remind them of our policy," Hooper wrote. She didn't address whether the company was aware of the sale of its subsidiary's drug to the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Maya Foa, who tracks pharmaceutical companies for the London-based human rights advocacy group Reprieve, defended Pfizer and Hospira, saying no pharmaceutical company wants its drugs used in executions.

"It is possible that Arkansas Department of Correction was able to access a left-over supply of Hospira inventory that was sitting in old distribution channels. This is, of course, a finite supply. Pfizer's new distribution system is extremely robust, and the company is committed to preventing the misuse of its medicines in executions," Foa said by email.

Records obtained by the AP show the state agreed to pay $1,849.33 for 100 vials of vecuronium bromide on July 11 and $2,982 for a purity analysis of the drug. That's almost 10 times less than the $18,478 the state paid in June 2015 for fewer doses of the drug.

Solomon Graves, a Department of Correction spokesman, said he couldn't comment on the price difference. He confirmed by email that the new supply of vecuronium bromide was not bought at a pharmacy outside of the U.S. and was not made by or obtained from a compounding pharmacy.

Asked whether the department knew or cared that a drug manufacturer said it didn't want its products used in executions, Graves responded: "Under the law, we cannot identify the company that made or sold the drugs, and I will not engage in hypotheticals."

The department already had a little more than 15 doses of midazolam, which expire in April 2017, and 16 doses of potassium chloride, which expire in January 2017.

In September, the AP identified the likely makers of the drugs the state purchased last year by comparing redacted Department of Correction photos of their labels with labels archived at the NIH and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It appeared that an India-based company, Sun Pharma, made the expired supply of vecuronium bromide. A subsidiary of the England-based company Hikma appeared to make the midazolam, and Hospira appeared to make the potassium chloride.

At the time, neither Hospira nor Sun Pharma would say whether they would try to recall the drugs. Both issued statements saying they opposed the use of their drugs in executions, and their internal policies and controls were put in place to prevent the use of the drugs in lethal injections.

Hikma in 2013 recalled different drugs that the Arkansas Department of Correction obtained from a third-party seller for executions. The company attempted to verify that its drugs had been obtained last year, but the department declined to answer the company's questions, citing the secrecy law.

Executions in Arkansas had been largely halted since 2005 because of legal challenges and trouble obtaining execution drugs. In a bid to resume executions, the Republican-led Legislature passed the execution secrecy law last year. It requires the state to keep the details about its execution drugs secret, including the names of the drugs' makers and sellers.

Nine inmates challenged the law, saying it could put them at risk of being subjected to unconstitutional cruel or unusual punishment and that it reneged on a previous agreement by the state to share information about the sources of the its execution drugs.

The state Supreme Court upheld the law in a split decision last month. The inmates indicated they planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eight of their execution dates had already been set, but their executions were on hold pending the outcome of that appeal.

Source: Statesman, Claudia Lauer, July 25, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Executions taint Indonesia's rise as global player

Indonesia may have felt proud when its delegation was chosen to represent 16 like-minded countries at a UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem at the UN headquarters in New York last April.

For Indonesia, its selection to read a joint statement on behalf of countries that maintain the death penalty showcased trust from others in its persistence to keep capital punishment intact. But Indonesian representatives to the UN forum received boos from many among the 193 delegations attending the session. The jeers sent a message of derision for defending the death penalty as "an important component of drug control policy".

While 140 states, or the majority of UN members, have applied a moratorium or abolished the death penalty altogether from their legal systems, Indonesia has preserved with pride its tough enforcement of the law, particularly against drug-related crimes.

Under the pretext of a "drug emergency" and based on figures that are subject to challenge, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has declared a war on drugs. Since Jokowi took office in October 2014, there have been 2 rounds of executions of death-row prisoners, mostly drug traffickers, with another round imminent. Executions seem like an annual ritual to save the younger generations from drugs.

On the 1st day after the Idul Fitri holiday, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo confirmed that a third round of executions before a firing squad was only a matter of time. Preparations have been underway over the past week for the execution of at least 13 death-row convicts from Indonesia and other countries, including China, which will take place somewhere on Nusakambangan, an island south of Central Java that houses maximum security prisons.

The executions, if they happen, will not be the last as another round could follow next year with more than 30 convicts having already exhausted their legal rights to escape capital punishment.

Regrets and condemnation poured in, including from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when Indonesia executed 14 convicts last year despite numerous calls for a reprieve. The executions also strained diplomatic ties, with close neighbor Australia as well as the Netherlands and Brazil recalling their ambassadors after their nationals were executed.

International pressure for Indonesia to stop the death penalty has not subsided. Jokowi's recent visit to Europe was overshadowed by criticism of the practice. German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly asked Jokowi to end capital punishment, but he remained resolute that executions would solve drug problems.

Indonesia inherited the death penalty from the Dutch colonial period and has kept it intact, although the former ruler abolished the harsh penalty in 1870 and removed all references to capital punishment from its law in 1991.

For a popular leader like Jokowi, the death penalty matters as it is the wish of his people. A number of surveys have found that most Indonesians support capital punishment, which is perceived as a legitimate and effective method to cleanse the country of criminals.

As a champion of democracy and human rights, however, executions will not only taint Indonesia's reputation but also undermine its ambition to become a major player in Asia and the world.

Indonesia has been pursuing a role as a global player, being recognized as the 3rd-largest democracy in the world and the biggest predominantly Muslim nation, which has proved that democracy and Islam can live together. Indonesia, too, has engaged in numerous multilateral negotiations and bound itself to international norms to stake a claim as a global power.

Indonesia, for example, ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2005, which signifies its commitment to respect for the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life. The adoption of such an important international instrument enables Indonesia to rank among other modern states but, rather than increasing its standards, the country preserves the cruel punishment that clearly violates human rights principles.

Currently, Indonesia holds a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, representing Asia Pacific until 2017. Citizens are proud of the honor, but ironically Indonesia ignores the very duty of a council member to uphold the highest standard of human rights promotion and protection both at home and around the world.

Executions clearly run counter to Indonesia's rise as an emerging power, a member of the prestigious Group of 20 ( G20 ), an East Asia Summit (EAS) member and the largest member of ASEAN. As a nation of critical importance given its size, growing economy and strategic relevance to regional security, Indonesia needs to show leadership and set a good example, including in the global campaign against the death penalty.

What a contradiction that we are working hard to gain global status but do not care about our own record at home.

Executions have also failed to curb the rate of drug crimes. After last year's executions, we have seen an intensification of arrests of people in possession of or trafficking drugs, some of them security officers. Suffice to say, executions have provided no deterrence.

We must also bear in mind that miscarriages of justice occur in many countries when it comes to the death penalty. Indonesia is not immune to that, especially with judicial corruption considered entrenched.

Whatever the reasons behind the executions, Indonesia lacks grounds to appeal to other countries to show compassion to 281 Indonesian migrant workers currently facing the death penalty overseas. Stop capital punishment now and President Jokowi will stand a greater chance of saving the lives of many of his people.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Yohanna Ririhena, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Indonesian woman appeals for clemency

Merry Utami
Merry Utami
A last-minute clemency appeal has been launched for an Indonesian woman believed to be facing the firing squad in the country's next round of executions, feared to be imminent.

The woman, known as MU or Merry Utami, was a poor woman who had been "manipulated" by a drug syndicate, when she smuggled 1.1 kilograms of heroin at Jakarta airport in October 2001, activists say.

The mother of 2 lost her appeal to overturn her death sentence in 2003.

On Saturday when she was transferred to the notorious Nuskambangan island prison, she received a copy of the decision of the judicial review into her case saying that her final legal pathway had failed.

The island is the same location where Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran faced the firing squad, along with 6 others, in April last year.

Holding a press conference in Jakarta, the women's rights group Komnas Perempuan said they had filed an emergency clemency request to President Joko Widodo on Tuesday while MU met with her family and a preacher at the prison.

Head of the organisation, Azriana, said MU should be granted a reprieve as her case highlighted how easily poor women in Indonesia fell prey to drug syndicates.

"Most women involved in drug syndicates come from poor family ... We need to postpone the death penalty to these poor women who are manipulated."

MU, Komnas Perempuan says, became a migrant worker in Taiwan in the late 1990s after divorcing from her husband who allegedly beat her.

When she returned to Indonesia, they alleged she became embroiled in a relationship with a man named "Jerry", who organised for her to go to Nepal. Here she collected a package which she brought back to Jakarta on October 31, 2001.

"These kind of women are innocent. MU was excited ... her boyfriend promised to marry her. In reality once she got caught, that was the end (of their relationship)," Adriana Venny from the organisation added.

The comments come amid increasing signs in Indonesia that the next round of executions could be carried out as early as this week.

Local undertaker Suhendro Putro - who prepared coffins for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran - told AAP on Monday that he was given directions to be "ready" to bathe the bodies of more death row prisoners.

However, the Attorney General Office has yet to announce how many people will be executed or when.

They have previously said they only wanted to give the required 3 days' notice in order to avoid the "soap opera" that surrounded last year's executions, which drew widespread condemnation from the international community.

Source: news.com.au, July 26, 2016


Women's Commission Pleads for Mercy for Death-Row Inmate Merry Utami

Jakarta. The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, appealed to President Joko Widodo on Tuesday (26/07) to postpone the execution of Merry Utami — a convicted drug-trafficker now on death row.

Merry, 42, one of the death-row inmates scheduled for a third round of executions by the Indonesian government, was moved from the Tangerang Women's Prison to the notorious Nusakambangan prison island on Sunday morning.

Merry was sentenced to death in 2003, after being arrested at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and charged with possession of 1.1 kilograms of heroin.

The commission's chairwoman, Azriana R.M., said it had sent a letter to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Tuesday morning urging a stay of Merry's execution until a clemency decision is announced.

In the letter, the commission said it fully supports the government's effort to fight drug abuse but rejects the death penalty for people who have been coerced into smuggling drugs by human trafficking syndicates.

"The government needs to consider clemency for Merry. She is a victim of domestic violence and human trafficking. The state should not execute innocent people," said Azriana during a press briefing in Jakarta on Tuesday.

In 2001, having divorced a man who forced her to become a migrant worker in Taiwan, Merry began a relationship with a man named Jerry. After three months the two traveled to Nepal.

After three days, Jerry headed to Jakarta for a business trip and asked Merry to join him one day later as there were some items he needed her to bring from Nepal.

"Merry was told to bring a new handbag to be sold at the Tanah Abang market. She complained that the bag was unusually heavy, but she was told that was normal since it was an expensive bag," said Komnas Perempuan commissioner Adriana Venny.

Merry's appeal was rejected by the Tangerang High Court in 2002. In 2014, the Supreme Court refused to annul her death sentence.

Adriana said Merry and her lawyers are still in the process of requesting a pardon from President Jokowi as the copy of the 2014 Supreme Court ruling was delivered only days before Merry was moved to Nusakambangan Prison.

In 2015, despite repeated pleas for mercy from foreign governments and international organizations, Indonesia executed 14 people for drug trafficking – among them citizens of Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

Only Mary Jane Veloso of the Philippines received a stay of execution last year after a woman, who allegedly planted drugs in Veloso's luggage, gave herself up to that country's police. Veloso will not be in the next round of executions.

Source: Jakarta Globe, July 26, 2016


Indonesia to hold next round of executions on Friday

Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Indonesia will execute several people including a Pakistani on Friday, a Pakistani embassy official said, its first executions since last year when it put to death 14 people, most of them foreign drug convicts, sparking an international outcry. Indonesian officials have said 16 people will be executed this year, including citizens of Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, though they have not confirmed any more details.

Syed Zahid Raza, chargé d'affaires at the Pakistani embassy in Jakarta, said the embassy had been informed about the imminent execution of the Pakistani, Zulfikar Ali, convicted of smuggling drugs.

"We were invited to meet with officials from the attorney general's office today who told us the executions will take place on Friday," Raza told Reuters on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office declined to comment on any time frame. Pakistan on Monday urged Indonesia to stay Ali's execution, citing concern that his 2005 trial had been unfair. Ali will make a last-ditch attempt to escape the death penalty by appealing directly to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for clemency, Raza said.

Indonesia says it is facing a "drugs emergency" and has vowed no mercy for traffickers. Its executions by firing squad have caused outrage overseas though surveys show Indonesians are largely in favour of capital punishment. Last year, Australia recalled its envoy to Jakarta, and Brazil said it was shocked and was evaluating ties after their citizens were executed. But President Widodo has disregarded diplomatic pressure and vowed to ramp up a war on drugs in what is among Southeast Asia's biggest markets for narcotics.

The executions will take place at a maximum security prison on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java but it is not clear how many prisoners will face the firing squad this week.

Authorities have not given a breakdown of the numbers of foreigners on death row but citizens of France, Britain and the Philippines are known to be among them.

Source: timesofoman.com, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

New Philippine Congress opens with death penalty at top of agenda

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
The newly convened Philippine Congress heard a proposal on Tuesday to re-impose the death penalty for "heinous crimes", giving priority to President Rodrigo Duterte's push for capital punishment in its first legislative session.

The death penalty bill was received the same day Duterte took office on June 30, and it cites illicit sales and use of drugs as the root cause of "the most perverse and atrocious crimes".

Introduced by two lawmakers, including a house speaker allied with Duterte, the bill cites the need for a war on crime and argues that existing laws were not a deterrent and had "emasculated" the criminal justice system.

The death penalty was repealed in 2006 following pressure from church groups.

The bill comes as Duterte's war on crime is in full swing, with at least 200 people killed in the past month, according to police, who say many of the deaths are the work of vigilantes.

Other estimates of the body count are far higher and human rights groups are outraged.

Duterte's vow to wipe out crime and drugs by the end of the year resonated among millions of Filipinos when he campaigned for election on threats to kill drug dealers who refused to surrender and dump their bodies in Manila Bay.

He will not get everything his way, however, with the bill calling for lethal injection as a method of administering the punishment. Duterte had called for death by hanging, which he described graphically during speeches.

Source: Reuters, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Iran: 250 Executions So Far In 2016

Public hanging in Mashhad, May 17, 2016
Public hanging in Mashhad, May 17, 2016
Iran Human Rights (26 JULY 2016): According to a report published by Iran Human Rights (IHR), Iranian authorities have executed at least 250 people between January 1 and July 20 of this year. This represents an average of more than one execution each day. Still, the execution numbers so far in 2016 are significantly lower than the numbers for the same period in 2015.

Last year, Iranian authorities executed more than 700 people in the first seven months of the year. The execution numbers for the whole year were more than 969, the highest in more than 25 years.

"Despite the significant reduction in the number of executions compared to the last two years, Iran remains on top of the list of executioners after China. Moreover, there is no indication that the reduction in the number of executions so far is due to a change of policy by the Iranian authorities. The numbers are lower than last year most probably because of the parliamentary elections in February and March of this year and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in June," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

IHR's analysis of the execution trends in Iran shows the number of executions as normally very low in the month of Ramadan, the weeks around the Iranian New Year (March 20) and in the weeks before the parliamentary and presidential elections.

"More than 40 executions were carried out in the first three weeks of July, and we are concerned the executions will further increase in the coming months. We call on the international community and all countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to put the situation of the death penalty in Iran on top of the agenda in their bilateral talks with the Iranian authorities," says Amiry-Moghaddam.

According to IHR's report, as in the past years, drug offenses and murder charges count for the majority of the executions carried out so far this year. Iranian authorities continue their practice of executing people in public places in front of ordinary citizens, including children. There are also several possible minor offenders among those executed so far in 2016; IHR is investigating further into these cases.

Some facts from IHR's recent report on executions between January 1 and July 20 2016:
  • 45% of the executions were reported by official Iranian sources
  • 47% of the executions were due to drug-related charges
  • 39% of the executions were for murder charges
  • 19 people were hanged in public spaces

It is important to emphasize that IHR is still investigting some of the execution reports, which have not been included here due to lack of sufficient details.

Source: Iran Human Rights, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Northern Iran: Four Prisoners Executed Including One in Public

25 July 2016 unidentified prisoner hanged in public in Kermanshah province, Iran.jpg
A prisoner is hanged in public in Kermanshah province, Iran, on July 25, 2016.
Iranian authorities reportedly executed three prisoners in the province of Gilan on Saturday July 23 and one prisoner in public on Monday July 25 in the Kermanshah province.

Iran Human Rights (July 25 2016): On Saturday July 23 three prisoners were reportedly hanged at Lakan, Rasht's central prison (Gilan province, northern Iran). 

The press department of the Judiciary in Gilan has identified the prisoners as: F.B., 40 years old, charged with trafficking 659 grams of crystal meth; A.M., 32 years old, charged with possession of 965 grams of heroin; and H.D., 31 years old, charged with murder.

On Monday July 25 an unidentified prisoner was hanged in public in Sonqor County (Kermanshah province, northwestern Iran) in front of a crowd of people. 

According to state run media outlet, Mehr News, the man was on death row for murdering a child. 

Released photos from this public execution show children were present in the crowd of people who watched the hanging.

Source: Iran Human Rights, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Indonesia: Executions to be carried out at midnight on July 29; spiritual advisers told to be ready

Nusakambangan Island, where Indonesia carries out its executions.
Nusakambangan Island, where Indonesia carries out its executions.
The spiritual advisers who will spend the final hours of life with those condemned to die in Indonesia's next round of executions have been told they will be carried out around midnight on July 29 to 30.

Fairfax Media understands around 16 convicted drug felons could be killed including foreign citizens from China, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

"We were told just today of the execution date, it's the 29th of July," a source told Fairfax Media.

Amnesty International and Indonesian human rights groups have called for an urgent moratorium on the executions, and for retrials that comply with fair standards, citing disturbing incidences of torture, coercion, corruption and unfair trials in the cases of many of those on death row.

Pakistani deputy ambassador Syed Zahid Raza​ has also issued a statement saying the embassy had approached officials to convince them its citizen, Zulfiqar Ali, had not been given a fair trial.

Zulfiqar was on Monday transferred to the execution island of Nusakambangan from the nearby port town of Cilacap, where he had been in hospital for two months for illnesses he claims are partly related to the torture he suffered when arrested in 2004. 

Vigils will be held outside the Indonesian consulate general in Melbourne at 7pm on July 26 and the Perth consulate general at 5pm on July 27.

Three of those expected to be executed this week - Zulfiqar and Indonesians Agus Hadi and Pujo Lestari - were among 12 death row prisoners named in last year's Amnesty International report Flawed justice: Unfair trials and the death penalty in Indonesia.

"Amnesty International found in the ... cases documented in this report that the defendants did not have access to legal counsel from the time of arrest and at different stages of their trial and appeals; and that they were subjected to ill-treatment while in police custody to make them 'confess' to their alleged crimes or sign police investigation reports," the report said.

Four Chinese men who were found guilty of drug trafficking after a 2005 police raid on a meth lab in Banten are also expected to be executed.

However co-accused Frenchman Serge Atlaoui​, who was slated to be executed in April last year but won an eleventh-hour reprieve, has once again been spared.

"It's a relief, it's reassuring, but the fight is not over yet. And I can't possibly celebrate knowing that the relatives of the inmates to be executed will suffer," Mr Atlaoui's wife, Sabine, told Le Republicain Lorrain.

Attorney-General Muhammad Prasetyo​ said on July 13 that no convicts from the United States, Europe or Australia were on the list to be executed this year. 

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, July 26, 2016


Clerics start entering Nusakambangan amid reports of executions

Clerics have started to visit the high-security Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, amid restrictions for visitors following reports of a third round of executions taking place soon.

The clerics crossed over to the island by ferry under local police and prison guard escort. Hasan Makarum, a cleric from the Cilacap branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), acknowledged that he had counseled several inmates on the prison island.

"We just do our duty, but sorry I don't know when the executions will take place," Hasan said as he arrived at Wijaya Pura Dock after visiting the prison on Monday.

He refused to give details on the inmates he counseled, but said he and several other clerics would be visiting the prison island regularly over the next few days.

Visits to the island have been suspended since Monday for members of the general public. Hopeful visitors have been advised to try again next week.

Nasrulloh, a guard on Nusakambangan, confirmed that the prison island was closed to general visitors for a week startingMonday. He explained that it was aimed at “sterilizing” the area in the lead-up to the third round of executions.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Agus Maryono, July 25, 2016


Reprieve Australia: To our friends in opposition to executions

Reprieve Australia is currently responding to events in Indonesia as another round of executions [has been announced]. Up to 18 Indonesian and foreign prisoners will apparently face firing squads [on 29 July 2016]. The Government refuses to make details public at this stage.

It is a dreadful truth that, even as the government spends weeks speaking of imminent executions, many of those it plans to kill have not been named. Many prisoners on death row simply do not know who will be plucked out and shot.

There is significant media discussing the concerns countries and legal teams have regarding the planned executions. Other deeply troubling issues such as questions of unfair trials, and confession obtained by torture are being raised by legal teams and families. Surely these matters require most careful investigation. We say it is unthinkable that executions would proceed in such circumstances.

We urge you to voice your opposition to the death penalty and encourage others to do so by emailing the Indonesian Embassy to seek clemency for any prisoners facing imminent execution.

The simplest way to do this is to email this address: kbri.visa@gmail.com

Indonesian Embassy in London, UK: kbri@btconnect.com
Indonesian Embassy Washington DC: +1 (202) 775-5200, @KBRIWashDC
Ambassade d'Indonésie à Paris : (+33) 01 45 03 07 60

Obviously, it is most important that all communications be respectful - that is the most effective way to be persuasive and bring about change.

Please check our Twitter account for the latest updates. You can also visit our Facebook page and website.

Some members of the community will be meeting for vigils to express their opposition to the death penalty, the details are set out here.

Melbourne: Tuesday 26 July, 7pm
Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia
72 Queens Road, Melbourne (Entrance from 72 Queens Lane)

Perth: Wednesday 27 July, 5pm
Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia
134 Adelaide Terrace, East Perth

Most of us cannot do much in these circumstances, but let us do what we can to save those facing execution, and to make the world free of state sponsored killings.

Julian McMahon
President, Reprieve Australia

Our mailing address is:
Reprieve Australia
GPO Box 4296
Melbourne, Victoria 3001
Australia

Source: Reprieve Australia, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, July 25, 2016

Saudi executes 2 murder convicts, raises number of death sentences to 107

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia on Monday executed 2 convicted murderers, the interior ministry said, raising to 107 the number of death sentences carried out in the kingdom this year.

Fahd al-Ishan was convicted of stabbing to death another Saudi citizen, the ministry said in a statement on the official SPA news agency. He was executed in the northern Jawf region.

Authorities executed another Saudi citizen, Mohammed al-Shahrani, in the southwestern region of Assir after he was convicted of shooting dead another Saudi national, the ministry said in another statement.

The kingdom on Sunday carried out the death penalty against 4 citizens convicted of murder. Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

Saudi Arabia's growing use of the death penalty has prompted Amnesty International to call for an "immediate" moratorium on the practice.

The kingdom imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

The London-based watchdog's Middle East and North Africa head Philip Luther has warned that "at this rate, the Kingdom's executioners will soon match or exceed the number of people they put to death last year."

Amnesty says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences in 2015, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan. Amnesty's figures do not include secretive China.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for "terrorism" offences on a single day in January.

Source: The Express Tribune, July 25, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Iran regime hangs 3 in prison; man set to be hanged in public on Monday

Public hanging in Iran
Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran's fundamentalist regime on Saturday hanged 3 prisoners in a jail in northern Iran. The regime is set to hang a man in public on Monday.

In a statement on Saturday, the regime's judiciary in Gilan Province, northern Iran, announced that the 3 prisoners were hanged in the presence of judicial officials in the Central Prison of Rasht. They were identified only by their initials and ages: F. B., 40; A. M., 32; and H. D., 31.

An unidentified prisoner will be hanged in public in the town of Songhor, western Iran, at dawn on Monday, state media reported.

The public execution will take place at the former site of the oil stocks, next to the town's power terminal, the state-run Soheil-e Songhor website reported on Sunday.

The mullahs' regime hanged another 9 prisoners on Wednesday in the city of Karaj, north-west of Tehran.

The regime hanged 18 prisoners last weekend, including 2 cases in public. A woman was among those hanged on July 17.

The regime hanged 9 prisoners collectively on July 13 in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj.

More than 270 Members of the European Parliament signed a joint statement on Iran last month, calling on the European Union to "condition" its relations with Tehran to an improvement of human rights.

The MEPs who were from all the EU Member States and from all political groups in the Parliament said they are concerned about the rising number of executions in Iran after Hassan Rouhani took office as President 3 years ago.

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,500 executions during Hassan Rouhani's tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of "God's commandments" and "laws of the parliament that belong to the people."

Source: NCR-Iran, July 25, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde