While President Jokowi has mentioned the government’s move in the direction of abolishing the death penalty, Indonesia’s Attorney General HM Prasetyo is firm about pushing through with the next round of executions and prioritizing drug criminals for that round.
After being elected into office, President Joko Widodo commanded that the death penalty be implemented again under his administration. In his time as Indonesian president, Jokowi has witnessed three rounds of executions as well as the state-sanctioned killings of 18 felons, all of which were convicted of drug-related crimes.
When the last round of executions was carried out in July, four convicts were killed by firing squad while ten others, who were supposedly part of the execution, were given last-minute reprieves. It has yet to be confirmed however whether the other ten will still be executed or not.
Convicted felons on the line for the maximum sentence of death penalty felt some relief and hope when President Joko Widodo mentioned in an interview last month that the government was planning to look into the abolition of the death penalty. Regardless of these plans however, HM Prasetyo, Indonesia’s attorney general continues to prepare the next rounds of executions.
After a meeting with House Commission III early last week, Prasetyo reported that plans on the next rounds of execution were underway and that those convicted of drug-related crimes will be prioritized for the firing squad. While the above information has been confirmed, Prasetyo did not mention any concrete timeframe as to the schedule of the succeeding rounds of executions. He however commented how they will be implemented at the right time when “everything is okay.”
When reporters were pressing him on the issue about whether any schedules were set before the year ends, the attorney general was quick to comment that while the executions were not a pleasant thing to be talked about, he believes it is necessary for the country to be able to move forward.
The attorney general being tight-lipped on the matter is in conjunction with the strategy followed by the government with the previous rounds of execution where they kept silent about the details of the executions. They decided to announce the critical details only when the actual date was close so as not to encourage any large and violent international outcry on the issue.
Prasetyo’s being mum on the issue can also mean that the next executions may still be theoretical and that Jokowi is still actually reconsidering his options with capital punishment.
Speculations suggest that Habibie’s appeal to Jokowi may have been effective in making the president rethink his approach on the executions. It will be recalled that Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, former president of Indonesia and a strong opponent of the death penalty, personally appealed to President Widodo to spare the life of Pakistani citizen Zulfiqar Ali, whom the former president believes is innocent of the crimes he was originally charged with.