Former President Habibie speaks out against death penalty: Only God has the right to decide who dies

President Joko Widodo’s administration is preparing to carry out their third round of executions after the end of the Idul Fitri holiday. Before the last two rounds of executions were carried out last year, the government faced fierce criticism from human rights activists and foreign governments for their application of the death penalty, but the administration relied on nationalistic sentiment to assert that it was Indonesia’s sovereign right to carry out the executions, no matter what foreigners said.

That defense, of course, ignores the many Indonesians who have been actively trying to rid the country of the death penalty for many years. It was easy for the government to overlook these activists since none of them were prominent political figures. 

But now the country’s third president, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, has voiced his own strong arguments against the death penalty and his criticism will hopefully not be so easy to brush aside.

Habibe has, in fact, published a whole book detailing his and other prominent figure’s  arguments against the use of the death penalty, titled, “Politik Hukuman Mati di Indonesia” (Death Penalty Politics in Indonesia), which he launched yesterday at the offices of the Constitutional Court in Jakarta. 

During Habibie’s speech at the book launch, he told the audience that he had never agreed with the execution of criminals. 

“I believe, that as humans we do not have the right to end somebody’s life. That is God’s prerogative. My position is that I am against the death penalty,” he said as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

He went on to say, “The right to life is the prerogative of every human being, no other human should take another person’s life.” 

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Asshiddiqie also gave a speech at launching, saying that he believed there would soon come a time when Indonesia would abolish the death penalty. 

Senior lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who helped edited the book, added to their remarks by saying that there has never been a study that has proven that the death penalty acts as an effective deterrent to crime.

Habibie is well respected for his work protecting human rights and promoting religious tolerance in Indonesia. Hopefully his words will help others Indonesians who are against the death penalty to voice their opposition.

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