Indonesia: Adami Wilson Execution - Questioning Aims
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2013
A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission
Indonesia: The Execution Of Adami Wilson - Questioning The Aims Of The Death Penalty
After refraining from executing individuals for four years, the Indonesian authorities executed a Nigerian national, Adami Wilson, on 14 March 2013. The Tangerang District Court named Adami guilty of drug dealing and sentenced him to death in 2004. The Attorney General Office (AGO) mentioned to the press that Adami's sentence is the first of other nine executions planned to take place this year.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is saddened by the execution of Adami Wilson and condemns the plan of the AGO to continue with further executions. While agreeing that individuals involved in criminal activities including drug crimes should be punished, the AHRC insists that death penalty is a violation to the right to life which is guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which has been ratified by Indonesia. International human rights standards have established that the taking of lives by states cannot be justified unless the tests of necessity and proportionality are met. The death penalty does not meet these two requirements as there is no life is imminently under threat at the time such punishment is carried out and that the desired aims to be achieved are equally possible with more lenient types of punishment.
That the death penalty is a deterrent to crime is merely a myth. High crime rates exist in both countries that impose the death penalty and those that have abolished it indicating that the rate is the result of mixed factors instead of being influenced solely by the severity of punishment imposed on wrongdoers. The death penalty is a lazy response to a high crime rate for it oversimplifies the greater problems that exist in a society as to why individuals commit crimes in the first place.
It is important to protect society from criminals and it is the obligation of the state to ensure the safety of individuals residing in its territory. Yet protection of society is something that is still possible to achieve even if criminals are not sent to a firing squad. So long as the criminals have their liberty legally deprived and their access to outside world is proportionately limited, keeping them alive poses no harm to the society. If anything, it may in fact help the law enforcement officials to solve other wrongdoings that the criminals are aware of.
In the case of Adami Wilson, for instance, keeping him alive may lead to the investigation on illegal transactions between death row convicts and the Indonesian law enforcement officials. In an interview with a local media Majalah Detik in October last year, Adami made a scandalous statement in which he explained how bribery gives the possibility for death convicts to have their punishment annulled. According to him, with IDR 1-3 billion (approximately USD 100,000-300,000), a convict may have his or her sentence commuted from death penalty to life or 20 years imprisonment. He claimed that he has heard of at least 12 cases in which the death convicts had their punishment commuted to a lighter one due to bribery, one of which involved his own friend.
Adami's statement sparked controversy at that time, yet it was 'not controversial enough' to urge the authorities to seriously investigate the bribery allegation. Now that Adami has been executed, it is even more unlikely that the allegation will actually go anywhere.
In the last four years, Indonesia had received praise from human rights organisations and activists for not executing death row convicts. There was even positive development on this matter last year when the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is a violation to the right to life. Whereas the government had previously voted against the UN resolution on the moratorium of the death penalty on the last occasion they abstained from voting, as pointed by KontraS and other local organisations.
The sudden decision to execute Adami Wilson is therefore not only regrettable, but also worth questioning. Was it really for providing a deterrent effect and protecting society from the harm of drugs as have always been claimed? Does the absence of an execution for four years indicate that the Indonesian government no longer wishes to provide a deterrent effect or protect the society?
The death penalty is not a solution;
it is part of the problem. Maintaining it will not result in
the reduction of crimes. It's only aim is revenge, to cover
illegal activities, preservation of arbitrariness, or the
violation of an individuals' most fundamental right.
Read this statement online
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.