Capital punishment is “a government sanctioned punishment whereby the targeted person faces certain death” (Hood & Hoyle 2014, p. 5). The targeted individuals include those who commit various capital offenses such as murder. Death penalty has remained an issue of contention in many countries across the globe. Several countries prohibit the use of capital punishment. However, nations such as China, Indonesia, and India still use capital punishment today (Hood & Hoyle 2014). The controversies associated with the death penalty have led to numerous protests in Indonesia. This research paper gives a detailed analysis of the issues associated with capital punishment in Indonesia.
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Death Penalty in Indonesia
The first execution in the Republic of Indonesia took place in 1973 (Indonesians against the death penalty 2016). Statistics indicate that around ten individuals are identified for execution every year in the country (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016). The targeted persons include those who engage in various offenses such as terrorism, possession and trafficking of illegal drugs, and murder. The government is also known to safeguard the details of capital punishment in the country (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016). According to the country’s law, executions should “be performed out of the public view” (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016, para. 6).
Executions: Where they are Held
The targeted prisoners are usually incarcerated for a long period before being executed. The family members of the prisoners are usually notified 3 days before the execution (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016). Nusa Kambangan is “the main location for carrying out such executions in Indonesia” (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016, para. 8)
Method of Execution
Since 1964, the procedures associated with capital punishment have remained unchanged (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016). The targeted prisoners are “executed in the middle of the night” (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016, para. 5). They are usually transferred to an undisclosed place. Firing squads are used to execute the selected prisoners. The firing squad is usually composed of twelve executioners. A prisoner who does not die during the process is then shot by the Commander in his or her head. The “executioners should fire from a distance of 5-10 meters” (Indonesians against the death penalty 2016, para. 6).
Activism Against Capital Punishment in Indonesia
Resistance to capital punishment is not something new in Indonesia. During the infamous Suharto era, many people were against the authoritarian leadership practiced in the country. There were numerous campaigns aimed at criticising the death penalty (Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016). Although many people believe that the country should have different measures to deal with narcotics and terrorism, the decision to use the death penalty has remained controversial in the nation.
Several groups have emerged in Indonesia in order to protest against capital punishment. The first activism is supported and promoted by the National Commission on Human Rights. The chairman of the organisation, Hafid Abbas, believes that “the imposition of death penalty to deal with various crimes is wrong” (Indonesians against the death penalty 2016). The campaigner has also indicated that capital punishment might not be useful towards dealing with terrorism and illicit drugs in the country.
Some human rights groups and activists have also voiced their concerns regarding the validity of the death penalty. These groups have been “staging numerous protests especially after the execution of the Bali Nine members” (Indonesians against the death penalty 2016, para. 7). Since 2014, the groups have been arguing that the use of the penalty is something that violates the right to life (Indonesians against the death penalty 2016). These groups have also been unhappy with President Jokowi’s inability to promote human rights. Such executions took place a few months after Jokowi became the country’s president.
The other source of activism comes from a coalition of different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country. Such NGOs have been arguing that capital punishment is erroneous and might not address various issues such as terrorism (Aritonang 2015). The coalition is headed by Hendari. The group has been using different media platforms to sensitise more people about the dangers of the death penalty.
Some individuals have also presented their views against the use of capital punishment. These citizens include Ro Marten, Alissa Wahid, and Laksmi Pamuntjak (Indonesians against the death penalty 2016). Alissa Wahid is the daughter of the former president of the country. These activists have been mobilising more people in order to ensure the government abandons the malpractice.
Reprieve Australia is another group that partners with different Asian countries to address the issues associated with the death penalty (Reprieve 2016). Reprieve Australia is currently working with “different activists and NGOs in order to support lawyers working on capital appeals and trials in Indonesia” (Reprieve 2016, para. 8). Experts believe that similar campaigns will play a major role towards changing the current laws used in Indonesia.
Amnesty International (AI) has also been campaigning in Indonesia to ensure the government abolishes the death penalty. Since 1977, the NGO has helped over 140 nations to abolish capital punishment. Amnesty International empowers different members of the public to influence the political decisions made in Indonesia. The group believes strongly that “capital punishment will be abandoned in the country sooner or later” (Aritonang 2015, p. 12).
The Indonesia Bishops Conference (KWI) has also been on the frontline to reject the use of capital punishment. KWI enjoys the support of migrant activists who believe that the death penalty is unrealistic and inappropriate (Indonesian Bishops, Migrant Activists Reject Death Penalty 2016). As well, the protesters state clearly that the form of punishment cannot deal with various criminal activities. The executive secretary of the conference, Pastor Siswantoko, wants the government to focus on new measures to tackle various crimes in the country.
These campaigns have been staged because many people believe that capital punishment is a threat to every human right. That being the case, such activists want the Indonesian government to come up with new alternatives to deal with crime (Indonesian Bishops, Migrant Activists Reject Death Penalty 2016). The political issues associated with execution should be abandoned in order to develop the best policies.
Aritonang (2015) believes that the history of capital punishment in Indonesia is something that should be used to come up with better ideas. As well, the above activists and NGOs should collaborate with the international community in order to produce tangible results (Reprieve 2016). The Indonesian government should also take full responsibility and address most of the crimes leading to capital punishment. Although it is hard to predict the potential future of the death penalty in Indonesia, experts believe that more activists will continue to oppose its use.
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List of References
Aritonang, M 2015, ‘Activists Demand Alternative to Death Row’, The Jakarta Post, p. 12.
Death Penalty Database: Indonesia 2016. Web.
Hood, R & Hoyle, C 2014, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Indonesians against the death penalty 2016. Web.
Reprieve 2016. Web.