HRW urges Indonesia to halt execution

NEW YORK - The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as ‘Jokowi’, to ‘urgently commute’ the death sentences of Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali and another 13 people facing execution.

The New York-based group said the Indonesian government has not announced a date for the executions, but has warned that “the time is approaching.” Jakarta-based diplomats have reported that the attorney general’s office informed them that the executions will take place on July 29, the HRW said.

“President Jokowi should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and avoid a potential diplomatic firestorm by sparing the lives of the 14 or more people facing imminent execution,” Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director, said in a statement.

“Jokowi should also ban the death penalty for drug crimes, which international law prohibits, rather than giving the go-ahead for more multiple executions.”

The watchdog noted that Pakistan’s government is seeking to dissuade Indonesia from executing Ali, who has been on death row since 2005 for drug smuggling, alleging that Ali’s “trial was not fair.”

It said foreign embassy personnel and media reports have confirmed that the death row prisoners also include four Nigerians, one Zimbabwean, and several Indonesian nationals. The Nigerians are Eugene Ape, Humphrey Jefferson Ejike Eleweke, Michael Titus Igweh, and Obinna Nwajagu, who were all arrested for drug trafficking in 2002 or 2003.

The government has not released an official list of prisoners facing the death penalty in the coming days. Indonesia’s security chief, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, told reporters on May 13 that he wants these executions to occur without a “soap opera,” a reference to Brazil’s and Australia’s highly publicized but unsuccessful efforts to prevent the execution of their citizens in Indonesia’s most recent mass executions in April 2015.

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