(New York) – Indonesia’s first execution in four years heightens the urgency for the government to take steps toward abolishing the death penalty. Adami Wilson, a 48-year-old Malawian national, was executed by firing squad in Jakarta on March 15, 2013. He was convicted in 2004 of smuggling one kilogram of heroin into Indonesia.
Wilson’s execution ends an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since the November 2008 execution of three men convicted for their role in the 2002 attack on a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202 people. Attorney General Arief Basrief said on March 15 that his office planned to execute nine more convicts this year. Last year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono described Indonesia’s death penalty as contrary to the global trend toward abolition and warned that his government “must not wrongly punish people.”
“The Indonesian government’s execution of Adami Wilson is a senseless end to four years without state killings,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “President Yudhoyono needs to have the courage of his convictions and act to abolish the death penalty.”
Wilson’s execution contradicted Indonesia’s statements on the death penalty at the United Nations, Human Rights said. In November 2012 at the UN General Assembly, Indonesia stated that “public debate was ongoing, including concerning a possible moratorium… [and] the need for transparent national and international debates, use of the death penalty, and the provision of safeguards.” Indonesia that same month for the first time abstained, rather than opposed, a resolution in favor of a global death penalty moratorium.
More than 100 people are on death row in Indonesia.
Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty and finality. On December 18, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted by a wide margin a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty. Urging all states that still maintain the penalty to establish a moratorium on executions, the resolution states that “there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the death penalty’s implementation is irreversible and irreparable.”
“Indonesia should immediately stop its renewed and appalling use of the death penalty,” Kine said. “If Indonesia is serious about becoming a leader among Asian nations, it should join the countries that have abolished capital punishment.”