CILACAP, INDONESIA – Indonesia executed four drug convicts by firing squad on Friday, July 29, moments after midnight.
According to the Attorney General for General Crimes Noor Rachmat, of the 14 death row convicts who were to be executed, only 4 pushed through: Indonesian Freddy Budiman and three Nigerians, Seck Osmane, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke and Michael Titus Igweh.
The 10 others were spared although Rachmat did not elaborate on how the decisions were made.
Those 10 others are foreign nationals from Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali; an Indian national named Gurdip Singh; Nigerians Onkonkwo Nonso Kingsley, Obina Nwajagu, Humprey Ejike, Eugene Ape, Gajetan Acena Seck Osmane and Michael Titus Igweh; as well as two Zimbabwe citizens, Ozias Sibanda and Federik Luttar.
Throughout the evening, lawyers and spiritual advisers of those sentenced to death came one by one to Cilacap’s sea port, the entry way to Nusakambangan island where executions by the government usually take place.
Buses carrying families also arrived throughout the night, to transport the families to the prison island where they can claim the bodies of those executed. Earlier in the day, family members cried, pleading for a last-minute reprieve for their loved ones.
Security was high around the port as media and locals flocked to the port’s gate, as news of the possible executions spread.
Indonesia has reiterated its insistence that the death penalty is an acceptable punishment under international law and a necessary method to address the intensifying drug crisis across the nation, an official has said.
“I need to emphasize here that all the legal rights and legal procedures related to the death-row convicts have been fulfilled,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir announced on Thursday (28 July).
Nasir resoluted that the death penalty did not violate international law; in Indonesia, capital punishment did not violate the right to life in the context of the 1945 Constitution.
The death penalty is applied only to traffickers who are considered responsible for the proliferated spread of illicit drugs in the country, while abusers are given rehabilitation, said Nasir, adding that Indonesia had rapidly turned from being a transit country to a destination country and a main market in the Asian region.
“As Indonesia always respects applicable laws in other countries, we also hope that every country will respect laws that are applicable in Indonesia,” he said.
Human Rights Groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) have been calling for the abolishing of the death penalty in Indonesia.
“President Jokowi should recognize the well-documented failure of the death penalty as a crime deterrent and allow Indonesia to join the growing number of countries that have abolished capital punishment,”said Phelim Kine, HRW’s deputy Asia director. “Jokowi would demonstrate leadership and respect for human rights by granting clemency to convicted drug traffickers on death row and restoring Indonesia’s unofficial moratorium on the death penalty.”
Indonesia ended a four-year unofficial moratorium on the death penalty in March 2013. President Joko Widodo has vowed to take a hard line against drug trafficking when he was elected in 2014, saying he would not compromise over death sentences to convicted drug dealers.