President Joko Widodo brought back the regular use of the death penalty under his administration and his time in office has seen three rounds of executions and the state-sanctioned killings of 18 people, all convicted of drug-related crimes. The last round of executions in July ended with four convicts killed by firing squad while another ten who were scheduled to die were given last minute reprieves, although whether they will still be executed in the future remains unclear.
Jokowi gave death penalty opponents some hope last month when he said in an interview that the government wanted to move in the direction of abolishing the death penalty. But if any such movement is being made, it is evidently not stopping Indonesia’s attorney general, HM Prasetyo, from preparing for the next round of executions.
After a meeting with House Commission III today, Prasetyo confirmed to the media that plans were being made and that drug criminals were still being prioritized for the firing squad.
“As for [the next round of executions] we are still prioritizing drug [criminals], yes, that is our first priority,” Prasetyo said as quoted by Detik.
Prasetyo would not give any sort of timeframe for when the next round of executions would take place but said that they would take place at the right time when “everything is ok”.
When pressed on whether the executions would take place before the end of the year, the attorney general only said that the executions were not a pleasant thing but it had to be done to move the country forward.
Prasetyo’s vagueness in discussing the next round of executions is in line the government’s approach to the previous round in which they attempted to keep details of the executions quiet until close to the actual date in order to prevent a large international outcry. But it may also mean that the next executions are still largely theoretical at this point and the president is actually rethinking his approach to capital punishment.
There is reason to believe that President Joko Widodo has reconsidered his stance on the death penalty. Former president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, a strong opponent of the death penalty, personally appealed to Jokowi to spare the life of Pakistani citizen Zulfiqar Ali, who Habibie said is likely innocent of the crimes he was charged with. Many believe Habibie’s appeal to have been effective in getting Jokowi to call off the executions that day.
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