Open Letter Demanding an Immediate Cessation of Ongoing Executions of People in Indonesia for Drug Offences
This petition had 5,829 supporters
President Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia
9 February 2015
Dear President Widodo,
We, the undersigned, write this open letter in request that you do not carry out the planned executions of those currently held on death row charged with drug-related offences in Indonesia, both Indonesian nationals, and foreign citizens. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of an individual’s human rights, and we urge you to focus on the human rights and health of those charged, and not on punitive policies that only exacerbate costs and harms.
On the 18th January 2015, six people who had been convicted of drug charges were executed in Indonesia, despite numerous pleas that the executions be called off. In addition to an Indonesian national, those killed included citizens of Brazil, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Vietnam and Malawi. International condemnation of these executions has been swift, and three of the states whose citizens were executed removed their ambassadors from Indonesia.
We stress that what you have referred to as ‘shock therapy’ as a means with which to deter drug trafficking categorically fails to work: such policies have demonstrably failed in their aim to decrease drug use the world over, and as noted in an open letter recently sent to you that was signed by in excess of 30 civil society organisations in Indonesia, these policies have failed to decrease drug use or drug trafficking in Indonesia. Criminalisation and the death penalty, far from decreasing drug use and drug-related harm, drive people who use drugs into the margins of society, distancing them from harm reduction interventions, from healthcare and service provision, and significantly worsening their health and social exclusion. Indeed, those who are convicted of trafficking drugs in Indonesia are often incredibly marginalised and vulnerable to exploitation, manipulation, and coercion. In short, the incarceration and execution of people who use drugs most harm the most vulnerable in society and are incompatible with a prioritisation of human rights and of health.
Further to failing to act as a deterrent, Indonesia’s actions are out of step with the growing global consensus of opposition to the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences. Abolition of the death penalty is increasingly the global norm, and these executions in Indonesia violate international law since the death penalty should only be imposed (if at all) for the most serious crimes, those crimes that involve intentional killing. You have additionally noted that clemency will not be considered for those currently on death row, but this is in violation of Indonesia’s constitution: each clemency application must be considered on its own merits. It is also important to stress that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have explicitly stated their opposition to the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences; in addition, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has encouraged states to abolish the death penalty for such offences.
In conclusion we implore you to consider the demonstrable fact that executing people for drug offences does not deter people from using or trafficking drugs. Criminalising, incarcerating, and executing people who have been charged with drug-related offences is disproportionate to the crimes of which they have been accused and serves only to exacerbate avoidable harm to individuals and to society at large, harm which you surely wish to reduce and end. We implore you to focus on rehabilitation of the incarcerated, and focus on health and human rights for those who have been charged with drug-related crimes. We reiterate that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of an individual’s human rights, and submit this open letter for your attention with urgency, and with hope.
INPUD Secretariat, London, UK
Dr Eliot Ross Albers
International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD)
Persaudaraan Korban Napza (PKNI), Indonesia
Asian Network of People who Use Drugs
Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League
Dr Rick Lines
Harm Reduction International
Anti Death Penalty Asia Network
Greg Denham (Victoria Police - retired)
Coordinator - Law Enforcement and HIV Network
National Policy Harm Reduction Manager
Rumah Cemara, Indonesia
Youth Organisations for Drug Action
Executive Director | Directeur général
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network| Réseau juridique canadienne VIH/sida
Indian Drug Users' Forum
Executive Board Member
National Users' Network of Nepal
Chair, Board of Directors
Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN)
International Drug Policy Consortium
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