Rights groups urge Jokowi to halt impending executions

Human rights groups on Wednesday urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo to halt the impending executions of more than a dozen convicts on death row for drug offences.

The attorney general’s office said it was preparing to proceed with further executions, but has not announced a date or other details.

At least 14 convicts could face firing squads as early as Friday, local media said.

Amnesty International said Jokowi, who came to power in 2014, would put his government “on the wrong side of history” if he allowed the executions to go ahead.

“President Widodo’s era was supposed to represent a new start for human rights in Indonesia,” said Josef Benedict, the organization’s deputy director for South-East Asia and the Pacific.

“Sadly, he could preside over the highest number of executions in the country’s democratic era at a time when most of the world has turned its back on this cruel practice,” Benedict said.

Last year Indonesia executed 14 death-row convicts in a move that drew criticism from the United Nations and the European Union.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also urged Jokowi to commute the death sentences.

“President Jokowi should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and avoid a potential diplomatic firestorm by sparing the lives of the 14 or more people facing imminent execution,” said Phelim Kine, the group’s deputy Asia director.

According to Amnesty, the foreign convicts expected to be executed include a Pakistani, an Indian, a Zimbabwean, a Senegalese, a South African and five Nigerians.

About 121 people are currently on death row in Indonesia, including 35 foreigners, mainly for drug-related crimes, according to the Indonesian Justice Ministry.

Jokowi has taken a tough stance against drug trafficking, saying the country is facing a drug emergency.

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