Tag: death penalty

Philippine president denies approving Mary Jane’s execution

A Philippine official said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte did not give the green light for Indonesia to go ahead with the execution of a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay clarified in a statement that Duterte never gave his Indonesian counterpart the green light to the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, contradicting reported comments from the Indonesian president earlier that day.

“[Duterte] told the Indonesian president that he respects their judicial processes and will accept whatever the final decision they will arrive at regarding her case,” Yasay said.

The clarification came after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said that Duterte had told him to proceed with the execution of Mary Jane, according to a statement on the cabinet secretary’s website.

Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane with Duterte during their meeting at the presidential palace when the Philippine president was on his first-ever state visit to a foreign country since he took office on June 30.

“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said, without providing further details.

Emmanuel Pinol, Philippine Agriculture Secretary who was at the meeting, said Duterte never told Jokowi that it was okay to execute Mary Jane, according to Manila Bulletin.

“The president never agreed to execute Mary Jane,” he said.

“What he said was that we respect your law, we will not interfere with your judicial process but we will ask for clemency,” Pinol added.

He also said there was an understanding that Mary Jane’s execution had been postponed indefinitely.

Jokowi said that he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.

Mary Jane was granted an 11th-hour reprieve on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in the Philippines after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.

Duterte made no reference to Mary Jane’s case in a joint press statement after their meeting, even though he had said before his visit to Indonesia that he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency.

However, he said that Indonesia and the Philippines w seeking ways to intensify cooperation against illegal drugs as part of their efforts for a drug-free Asean.

“We share the deep concern over the trade in illicit and illegal drugs and its impact on our societies,” Duterte said.


Jokowi: Duterte supports Mary Jane’s execution

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Monday that his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light for Indonesia to execute a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.

In a statement posted on the cabinet secretary’s website, Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane Veloso with Duterte during his visit to Indonesia on Friday, but declined to provide further details.

“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said after conducting Eid prayers in Serang, Banten province.

He said he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.

Before his visit to Indonesia, Duterte said he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency, however he made no reference to the case in a joint press statement after their meeting.

Mary Jane was granted a last-minute stay of execution on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in her home country after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.

Both Jokowi and Duterte are currently waging a war on drugs in their respective countries.

Since he took office in 2014, Jokowi’s administration has executed 18 people convicted for drug trafficking, most of whom were foreigners.

In the Philippines, 1,011 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations between July 1 and September 4, according to police statistics.

Police also recorded 1,391 deaths during the same period which are still being investigated.

Human rights activists and Indonesian representative in the Coalition for the Abolition of Death Penalty in Asean (CAPDA) urged both presidents to review the deadly measures they take on the war against drugs.

The coalition also said it rejected the judicial and extrajudicial killings in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Daniel Awigra, the Asean program manager at the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said both countries have set a bad example for the protection of human rights in the region.

They could also stall further promotion of human rights in Southeast Asia, where a number of Asean member states still have poor human rights records, he added.

“Indonesia and the Philippines had been the driving force for human rights promotion in Asean but these two champions have become bad examples for other countries in the region,” Daniel said.

He also said that Jokowi and Duterte could be leaving a poor moral legacy despite becoming more popular by taking these measures.

“After all, Indonesia and the Philippines are the big brothers in Asean and Indonesia has a leadership role in the bloc,” Daniel said.

Freddy Budiman’s tale of law enforcement corruption

By Haris Azhar*

As Indonesia was preparing the third set of executions under President Joko Widodo, I recalled a 2014 encounter with Freddy Budiman on Nusa Kambangan, which led me to believe that the executions have not been carried out to uphold justice but merely to boost popularity.

Freddy’s drug smuggling case showed just how flawed the legal system is, for reasons which I describe as follows.

During the 2014 presidential election campaign, I received an invitation from a church organization that is active in providing spiritual assistance to inmates in the Nusa Kambangan prison complex.

I had a chance to meet with a number of death-row inmates who were convicted of terrorism and those who were believed to be victims of miscarriages of justice.

I met among others, John Refra, also known as John Kei, and drug convicts on death row Freddy Budiman and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who was executed in April 2015.

I thank Mr. Sitinjak, the prison chief warden at that time, for giving me an opportunity to talk to him and exchange ideas about his work. I think Mr. Sitinjak was very strict and disciplined in managing the prison.

Almost every day, Mr. Sitinjak ordered his staffers to confiscate cellular phones and weapons that were in the inmates’ possession. I witnessed prison guards seizing many cell phones and sharp weapons.

But instead of being appreciated for his hard work to build the integrity of the prison, including installing two security cameras to monitor Freddy around the clock, Mr. Sitinjak admitted to me that officials from the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), who often visited the prison, had asked him to remove the cameras.

I thought this was odd and I asked him why BNN would object to the cameras. Didn’t Freddy’s status as a drug lord require close monitoring? I then had my question answered by Freddy himself who told me his story.

According to the church member who took me to the prison, Freddy was eager to meet and talk directly with me. I, accompanied by two servants of the church and John Kei, chatted with Freddy for two hours.

This is what he told me.

“Mr. Haris, I’m not a person who is afraid to die. I am ready to be executed because of my crime, I know the risk of the crime I have committed. But I am also disappointed with the officials and law enforcers.”

“I am not a dealer. I am the operator of a large-scale drug smuggling network. I have a boss who is not from Indonesia. He is in China. When I want to smuggle drugs, I would arrange it, I called the police, BNN, Customs officials and those people who I called, would chip in and named their prices. Can you guess the actual price of the drugs I sell in Jakarta for around Rp200.000 – 300.000 in the market?” Freddy asked me.

I answered Rp50.000. Freddy immediately replied:

“Wrong. It costs only Rp5.000 straight out of the factory in China, so I was never afraid if some people quoted their prices to me. When I phoned a particular person, that person would chip in  Rp10.000 per pill, another would offer Rp30.000 and I never refused. Do you know why Mr. Haris?”

“Because I could sell Rp200.000 per item, so if you simply give from the proceeds around Rp10.000 – 30.000 to each of people of certain institutions, it was no big deal. I only need Rp10 billion and the goods will arrive. From the sale profits, I could share tens of billions with some officials in certain institutions.”

Freddy said police often sold confiscated drugs themselves. “When I smuggled the stuff, I was arrested. My goods were confiscated. But from my informants, the confiscated goods were sold.

“So my boss (in China) asked: ‘You said that you already greased the palms of the police, how come you got arrested? And if you are captured, why are the goods available in the circulation. Who is playing the game? You or the police?’”

Freddy went on: “I know because every drug plant has its own characteristics such as a unique shape, color and taste. So if my goods are being sold, I know. And my networks discovered that.”

Freddy continued again. “And why have I been singled out? Where are those people? I calculated that over several years of smuggling drugs, I had given Rp450 billion to BNN and Rp90 billion to certain officials at the national police headquarters. I even drove the official car of a two-star army general, with the general sitting next to me from Medan to Jakarta with the car fully loaded with drugs. My trip was smooth and safe without any trouble.”

“I am concerned with such officials. When I was arrested, I was asked to confess and tell all about where and who the dealer was. I said, my investor was the son of a high-ranking official in Korea (Not sure if Freddy meant North or South Korea – Haris). I was ready to show where the factory was, and I went there with BNN officers (not sure if it was one or more officials – Haris). We went to China and we got to the front of the factory. Then I asked the BNN people: Now what?”

“In the end, they didn’t know [what to do], so we returned. I have always been cooperative with law enforcement officials. If [they] want to uncover, just do it. But they misused my being cooperative.”

“When they said I escaped, actually I did not escape. When I was in custody, I was approached by the police who offered me to escape. But I did not want to run away because I still could control my business from inside the prison. But I knew the police needed money, so I accepted the offer. But I told him I had no money. Then the police looked for about Rp1 billion loan out of the agreed price of Rp2 billion. Then I escaped. When I was already on the run, I paid the other one billion. But a few days later I was arrested again. I understand that I was arrested again because from the beginning I knew he was just going to blackmail me.”

Freddy also expressed that he was sorry for the ordinary people such as the drivers of trucks in which the drugs were loaded and could not accept the fact that they were the ones who are punished, instead of the high-profile actors who enjoyed protection.

I then asked Freddy where I could get [more of] this story? Why not just publicise this story? Freddy replied:

“I had already told my lawyer, if I want to publicise this, to whom? That is why it is important to you, Mr. Haris. So you can tell the story to the wider public, that I am ready to be executed, but I am concerned with the current state of law enforcement. Why don’t you read my plea, Mr. Haris, the story I am telling you now is all in the plea.”

So I looked for Freddy’s written plea. I could not find it on the Supreme Court website. I could only find the verdict on the website. The verdict however does not provide any information of what Freddy had told me about allegations of state, law enforcement officials involvement in the case.

We at KontraS then tried to look for Freddy’s lawyer’s contact, but interestingly, despite the abundance and wealth of information on the internet, we could not find any information that mentioned who Freddy’s lawyer was and his whereabouts. Eventually we failed to meet the lawyer through whom we hope to dig this information deeper, whether such information was included in Freddy’s dossier and ask further information about the progress of the case.

Note: Haris’ testimony made rounds on social media and messaging apps just before midnight on July 28, 2016. Freddy was executed shortly after midnight on July 29, 2016 along with Seck Osmane from Senegal and Michael Titus and Humphrey Jefferson Ejike from Nigeria.

Haris Azhar is the coordinator of The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) 


Indonesia executes four convicted drug traffickers

Indonesia executed four convicted drug traffickers on Friday, a top prosecutor said, in the third such group execution since President Joko Widodo took office in October 2014.  Continue reading “Indonesia executes four convicted drug traffickers”

Rights groups reiterated calls for Indonesia to end death penalty

A year since the Indonesian government carried out the first round of executions on drug offenders, international and national right activists reiterated their calls on the government to impose a moratorium on executions.

In an open letter to Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, international rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) and nine rights advocacy group in Indonesia said the moratorium would be the first step towards abolishing death penalty in the country.

They also urged the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to establish an independent body or mandate an existing one to review cases where people have been sentenced to death.

“With a view of commuting the death sentences or in cases where the procedures were seriously flawed, offer a retrial that fully complies with international fair trial standards and which does not resort to death penalty,” the rights advocates wrote in their letter to Luhut dated 18 January, 2015 or a year after the first round of executions.

The Attorney General office said last year they have prepared a list of 14 death row inmates – not all of them are drug convicts – who will face the firing squad this year, but they have not set a date yet for the executions. In November, Luhut said that the government has put on hold any plans for executions as they were concentrating on fixing the sluggish economy.

The government carried out executions on six drug convicts, including five foreigners in January last year and another one in late April 2015, when eight drug offenders including seven foreigners were executed in Central Java’s prison island of Nusa Kambangan. The executions resulted in a diplomatic rifts with countries whose citizens were killed, including Australia.

The third round of executions would likely include two Europeans, French man Serge Atlaoui and British grandmother 59-year-old Lindsay Sandiford, as well as a Filipino woman Mary Jane Veloso.

The latter was granted a last-minute reprieve from the firing squad in April to allow her to testify against suspects in the Philippines who allegedly duped her into being a drug mule after promising her a job overseas. Sandiford was sentenced to death in 2012 after she was caught smuggling drugs into Bali. Atlaoui lost his last-ditch appeal to avoid execution after Jakarta’s State Administrative Court rejected his appeal challenging the president’s decision to deny his clemency request.

In the wake of last year’s executions, the European Union (EU) strongly criticised Indonesia’s use of death penalty to deal with drug offenders as regrettable, but Jokowi has pledged not to relent in his war on drugs, saying that Indonesia is facing a drug emergency and the problem required “serious and urgent measures.”

Director of Brussels-based think tank EU- Asia Centre, Dr. Fraser Cameron said the EU always has a strong position against death penalty because it is one of the fundamental principles of the EU.

“Death penalty doesn’t work. That’s why many countries abolished it,” Cameron told a group of visiting Asian journalists, including The Parrot, in Brussels recently.

“There is no evidence that death penalty is a deterrent and in terms of basic human rights, it is simply unacceptable,” he said, adding that there is always the possibility  an innocent person would be executed as it has happened before in many countries.

He also said that the EU don’t overlook this matter even when forging cooperation with big economies such the United States or China and would lobby against death penalty not just with Indonesia, but also other countries that still have it in their legal system.

AI said that 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice.

“The resumption of of executions in Indonesia have not only set Indonesia against its international obligations but also against the global trend towards abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” the rights advocates said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane Veloso had some family time when her parents and two sons visited her in a Yogyakarta prison to celebrate her 31st birthday last week.

“Her family still maintains hope that Mary Jane could return home and reunite with the family,” her lawyer Agus Salim said.

Indonesia’s anti-narcotics czar proposes crocodile moats to guard drug inmates

Drug convicts could find themselves guarded by hungry crocodiles under a plan put forward by Indonesia’s anti-narcotics agency chief Budi Waseso. Continue reading “Indonesia’s anti-narcotics czar proposes crocodile moats to guard drug inmates”

President Jokowi says war on drugs will go on, “no mercy” for drug traffickers

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has pledged not to relent in his war on drugs, saying that the country’s narcotics problem required “serious and urgent measures.” Continue reading “President Jokowi says war on drugs will go on, “no mercy” for drug traffickers”

French drug convict won’t be executed in near future, Attorney General’s office says

A French drug convict who lost his last-ditch appeal to avoid execution will not face firing squad in the immediate future, the Indonesian Attorney General’s office said.

Jakarta’s State Administrative Court on Monday rejected Serge Atlaoui’s appeal challenging a decision by President Joko Widodo to deny his request for clemency. Atlaoui, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for working in an ecstasy factory, was due to be executed in April but a last-minute legal challenge prompted the Attorney General’s office to grant a stay of execution.

Attorney General’s office spokesman Tony Spontana said Atlaoui would be included in the next round of executions, the date of which has not been decided.

“The next round of executions will not be carried out in the near future, at least not in this holy month of Ramadan,” Tony said. A panel of three judges at the State Administrative Court said it did not have jurisdiction to examine the president’s decisions on clemency.

“Granting clemency is the president’s prerogative right and therefore the decision cannot be challenged at the State Administrative Court,” chief judge Ujang Abdullah said. Atlaoui, 51, said he was a welder who installed tanks, pumps, distillation equipment in what he descibed as an acrylic production plant.

He argued that the death sentence was too harsh for his actual role in the crime. Eight people convicted of drug trafficking were executed at the Nusakambangan penal island in April, including seven foreigners, despite international calls mercy. Among them were Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were the subject of repeated appeals for clemency from Australian leaders.

The other foreign convicts executed were four Nigerians and a Brazil national. Another drug convict facing execution, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, received a stay of execution after a woman who was involved in hiring her turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines. Supporters hope that the woman’s case will show that Veloso was a victim of human trafficking.

The European Union and the United Nations urged Indonesia to declare an “immediate moratorium” on the use of the death penalty in the wake of the executions.

President Joko Widodo has vowed not to grant clemency to drug traffickers, saying that Indonesia is facing a drug emergency. He cited data from the National Narcotics Agency that suggest that about 50 people die every day because of drug abuse. However some experts have questioned the validity of the statistics and raised concerns about the use of questionable methods in data collection.

In an open letter published in leading health journal The Lancet, a group of Indonesian experts urged Jokowi to end the use of the death penalty for drug trafficking. A researcher at Atmajaya University’s HIV and AIDS Research Center, Irwanto, said he the group was concerned that the government had used the estimates as the basis for its drug policy without providing sufficient opportunity for independent peer review.

“Obtaining valid estimates of drug use is not an easy, direct process and we need to make sure that national policies are based on evidence that is thoroughly peer-reviewed and transparent,” Irwanto was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post earlier this month. “Each human life matters. Productive human lives may be compromised by misguided policies,” he said.

The story has been updated with comments from the Attorney General’s office

Transnational campaign against death penalty in Indonesia began with political prisoners

Vannessa Hearman

Lecturer in Indonesian Studies at University of Sydney

World attention has focused on Indonesia’s recent executions. But this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the execution of three Indonesian political prisoners.

In 1985, the Suharto regime executed Joko Untung, Gatot Lestario and Rustomo. With little warning to their families, they were taken in the middle of the night to a field in Pamekasan on the island of Madura, off the north coast of East Java, and shot.

The men had been in prison since 1968 and 1969. Their crime was to try to resurrect the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in the southern parts of East Java.

Opposition to the death penalty during the Suharto era was primarily part of the campaign against the authoritarian regime in Indonesia. This campaign united Indonesian and international organisations and involved ordinary citizens in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.

The story of Gatot Lestario

Lestario was a high school teacher and an organiser of the PKI in East Java until 1965. The PKI was the third-largest communist party in the world at that time.

In September 1965, a group calling itself the 30th of September Movement kidnapped and killed seven high-ranking army officers. This was painted as a coup attempt against President Sukarno. The army leadership, led by Major General Suharto, blamed it on the PKI.

Half a million leftists were killed in the 1965-66 pogroms. Many were imprisoned, mostly without trial, for varying lengths of time. A small number of leftists categorised as those “most involved” in the 30th of September Movement, including communist leaders, were executed. Suharto became president in 1968 and led Indonesia for the next 30 years.

Lestario and a few dozen surviving PKI cadres managed to survive in hiding. In 1967, they retreated to construct a base in South Blitar to resist the Suharto regime.

The military destroyed the base by September 1968 and thousands were killed, arrested and displaced. The surviving militants were jailed, some in Jakarta and the rest, including Lestario, in East Java. He was tried and sentenced to death in 1976.

International campaign for Lestario

While on death row, Lestario, who was adept in Dutch and English in addition to Indonesian and Javanese languages, began writing to penfriends who were involved in the Quakers and Amnesty International. Lestario convinced his penfriends to take up his case in their respective countries and in Indonesia.

One of the founders of Amnesty International, Eric Baker was a Quaker and he urged the Quakers to support Amnesty’s anti-torture campaign launched in 1973. The Quakers set up the Campaign Against Torture and the Prisoner Befriending Scheme as a result. The scheme encouraged Quaker congregations to write to political prisoners around the world.

In 1983, Doreen Brown, who lived in London, sent Lestario a Christmas card to which he replied. Through his letters, Lestario was able to provide information to Amnesty International and Tapol, an Indonesian human rights organisation also based in London. Tapol was founded by former Indonesian political prisoner Carmel Budiardjo in 1973.

Lestario described prison conditions and the situation of the 22 political prisoners in Pamekasan. Despite being behind bars, Lestario worked with this transnational network to improve the conditions of political prisoners and to campaign for their release.

The Browns wrote and circulated two petitions, signed by hundreds of people, addressed to the Indonesian government for the release of Lestario and his wife Pudjiaswati. Lestario’s clemency appeal to President Suharto was denied in 1984.

In the same year, after a brief moratorium on executions, leftist prisoners began to be executed again, starting with Mohammad Munir. Munir was formerly a trade union leader with the World Federation of Trade Unions and member of the PKI Politburo.

Lestario expressed his concern to his penfriends about this worrying development. He hoped that Amnesty could pressure the foreign minister, Mochtar Kusumaatmadja, on his 1985 visit to London to commute the Indonesian death sentences.

Despite his optimism, Lestario was shot in July 1985. His mother was able to spend his last moments with him. But his wife, herself in prison in East Java, and his children were not aware of his execution until days later.

In Westminster, England, the Browns organised a memorial meeting on October 2 1985 for the executed men. At the end of the meeting, people were asked to take home a flower to press and dry to remember the men by.

One year on, they published a book of extracts from Lestario’s letters, a tribute to their friend, titled The Last Years of Gatot Lestario. Handwritten then photocopied, hand-bound and stitched, the couple made 220 books and from the proceeds they raised funds for political prisoners in Indonesia and their families.

Campaign for abolition

The subversion law, upon which Lestario’s execution was based, was repealed in 1998 when the Suharto regime ended. But the death penalty still stands for other crimes.

The campaign against the death penalty today has been more difficult to maintain and less visible, because in the past it was so intertwined with the fight for democracy in Indonesia.

But a transnational campaign against the death penalty can be built today in the footsteps of previous campaigns developed between Indonesians and the international community.

The article was originally published on http://www.theconversation.com

To read the article, go to https://theconversation.com/transnational-campaign-against-death-penalty-in-indonesia-began-with-political-prisoners-40962?

Executed Brazilian convict unaware he was going to be shot until chained

The Brazilian drug convict who was executed in Indonesia this week was unaware he was going to die until he was chained and led to a shooting range to be shot, a priest who counseled him said Thursday.   Continue reading “Executed Brazilian convict unaware he was going to be shot until chained”