14 inmates face execution

Nusa Kambangan houses Indonesia’s death row. Source: Wikimedia

The UN human rights chief has called on Jakarta to stop the executions of 14 prisoners for drug offences planned for the weekend.

With the convicts, including foreigners, facing the firing squad, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed his fury.

“The increasing use of the death penalty in Indonesia is terribly worrying, and I urge the government to immediately end this practice which is unjust and incompatible with human rights,” he announced.

“The death penalty is not an effective deterrent relative to other forms of punishment nor does it protect people from drug abuse.”

Security has been tightened at the Kambangan convict island jail.

Those who would be executed include citizens of Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Senegal, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo told the media.

Prasetyo said: “We understand that there is a camp that does not agree with us, but no matter what, this is not a pleasant work but it still has to be done.”

At least four Indonesians and an Indian are also expected to be executed.

It would be the third round of executions under President Joko Widodo, who promised to improve human rights when campaigning for the job.

If carried out, the administration will have executed more people in two years than in the previous decade.

Pakistan is protesting against the planned execution of its citizen, calling it unfair and alleging torture by the authorities.

Amnesty International said Widodo’s presidency was “supposed to represent” a new era on human rights in Indonesia.

“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,” said Josef Benedict of the NGO. “The death penalty does not deter crime. Carrying out executions will not rid Indonesia of drugs. It is never the solution, and it will damage Indonesia’s standing in the world.”

Human Rights Watch said the death penalty was a “barbarity” and would cause a “potential diplomatic firestorm”, if the executions went ahead. Indonesia executed 14 people for drug crimes, mostly foreigners, during 2015.

The Indonesian government said 133 convicts were on death row in January last year with 57 on drug trafficking cases and 74 held for murder and robbery.