Indonesia set to execute drug convicts, including foreigners

Indonesia resists diplomatic pressure for mercy, plans to hold executions on Friday.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

An Indonesian policeman guards outside a metal gate at the Cilacap port, the only gate to Indonesia's highest security Nusakambangan prison in Cilacap on July 25, 2016.

Indonesia is set to execute a group of drug convicts including a number of foreigners on Friday, a Pakistani embassy official said.

Authorities have given notice for the upcoming executions, a diplomat said, despite many protests from governments and rights groups.

This will be Indonesia’s first round of executions since last year when it executed 14 people, most of whom were foreigners on drug charges.

Indonesian officials say 16 people will be executed this year including citizens from Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Officials say that no Europeans or Australians will be among those who will be in the third round of executions under President Joko Widodo.

The last series of executions back in April 2015 sparked international outrage when the country executed seven foreigners, including two Australians.

However President Joko Widodo has insisted that Jakarta is faced with a war against drugs and that traffickers must be duly punished to act as a deterrent.

Syed Zahid Raza, the deputy Pakistani ambassador in Jakarta, told AFP that the convicts, which include a Pakistani, will most likely be executed at around midnight on Friday, after officials indicated the start of a 72-hour notice period at a meeting with diplomats.

Raza said the embassy had also been informed that 52-year old Pakistani Zulfikar Ali, convicted of smuggling drugs, is among those who may soon be executed.

"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 did not make any comment regarding the date and time of the imminent executions.

On Monday, Pakistan urged Indonesia to not go through with the execution of Ali, who was sentenced to death for heroin possession back in 2005, saying that he was beaten and tortured into a confession and that he did not have a fair trial.  

Relatives of Pakistani Zulfiqar Ali, a convict on death row, arrive at the prosecutor's office in Cilacap prior to a meeting with prosecutors and lawyers in Cilacap on July 26, 2016.

Pakistan has so far publicly voiced the most concern about the imminent executions, and its foreign ministry Tuesday called the Indonesian ambassador to Islamabad to convey their concern about Ali’s case.

According to Raza, Ali will try his last chance at escaping the death penalty by directly appealing to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for clemency.

Indonesia says that it is in the middle of a ‘’drugs emergency’’ and has pledged to have no mercy when its comes to drug traffickers. The country’s executions have sparked outrage overseas, however according to surveys, most Indonesians are in favour of capital punishment.  

Last year, Australia recalled its envoy to Jakarta, when Indonesia put to death two Australians, along with seven other foreigners, in April 2015.

Brazil was shocked and said it was evaluating their ties with Indonesia after their citizens were executed.   

However, President Joko Widodo has ignored diplomatic pressure and promised to act more aggressively in the war against drugs, in what is among Southeast Asia’s largest markets for drugs.

The executions are due to take place at a maximum security prison on Nusakambangan Island in Central Java, though it is not clear exactly how many prisoners will be executed this week.

Authorities have begun making preparations, with death row drug convicts having already been transferred to the island where Indonesia puts convicts to death, and 14 prisoners have reportedly been placed in isolation, which is a common step before executions.

Authorities have not given the exact number of foreigners to be executed, however citizens of Britain, France and the Philippines are known to be among them.

Indonesia had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty between 2008 and 2012 but resumed executions in 2013.

Widodo has stepped up up executions during his tenure, so far 14 convicts held on drug charges have been executed during his presidency, 12 of them foreigners.

Between 1999-2014, under Indonesia’s first four democratic-era presidents, 27 people were executed, an average of fewer than two executions per year. Within Widodo’s first 100 days in office, in January 2015, Indonesia has already executed six people.

Before Joko Widodo became president, only seven out of 27 prisoners executed were sentenced in narcotic cases, with 17 people put to death for murder and three for terrorism.

TRTWorld and agencies