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U.N. Urgently Exhorts Indonesia to Halt Executions

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 15 2015 (IPS) - In a time-sensitive appeal, a U.N. Human Rights Expert has urged the Indonesian Government to halt further executions of people convicted of drug-related offenses.

It is reported that 14 persons have been slated for execution in Indonesia without a fair trial, to which U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, is seeking immediate reverse measures including clemency.

“Despite several appeals by U.N. human rights experts and civil society organisations urging the Indonesian Government to reconsider imposing the death penalty for drug-related offences, the authorities decided to execute six people by firing squad on 18 January 2015,” said Heyns, in Geneva.

More recently, Indonesian officials have announced that eight convicted drug traffickers would be executed by firing squad any day now.

It is reported that 12 out of the 14 cases are foreign nationals who generally have not received access to adequate interpreting services, the right to a translator or a lawyer at every stage of trial and appeal.

“Any death sentence must comply with international obligations related to the stringent respect of fair trial and due process guarantees, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a State party.

“I previously expressed concerns over the imposition of death penalty for drug-related offenses, and that such death sentences undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” said Heyns.

International law regards punishment by death to be an extreme form of punishment, which should never be imposed in the absence of the strictest safeguards including a fair trial.

“I have urged Indonesia to restrict the use of the death penalty in compliance with its international obligations. I regret that the authorities continue to execute people in violation of international human rights standards.”

In his statement, Heyns also drew attention to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by which anyone sentenced to punishment by death has the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence, reminding of the option to grant amnesty, pardon or commutation of the death sentence.

On a broader note, he concluded by saying: “I urge the Government of Indonesia to establish a moratorium on execution with a view of its complete abolition, in order to comply with the international move towards the abolition of the death penalty”.

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