Indonesian Catholics denounce death penalty

February 7, 2017 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Jakarta, February 7, 2017: Church officials and Catholic families maintain that the Indonesian government’s decision to continue imposing the death penalty is ineffective and targets young people vulnerable to the drug trade.

At a recent meeting in Jakarta, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo told legislators that the government plans to push for the death penalty for extraordinary crimes including drug trafficking, “as long as positive law allows.”

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, reminded the government that the death penalty would not be enough to eradicate illegal drugs.

“The government should replace the death penalty with life imprisonment which has a deterrent effect and can give people a chance to change,” he said.

Since President Joko Widodo took office in October 2014, the government has carried out three rounds of executions for drug traffickers, putting to death six people and eight others in January and April 2015 and four people in July 2016.

Father Siswantoko mentioned the case of a Catholic layman named Christian, who was arrested in November 2007 on drug trafficking charges, convicted and later sentenced to death.

The priest said that his team, under the Advocacy and Human Rights Forum, discovered that the man was mistakenly arrested and police were actually targeting a drug trafficker of the same name.

Despite being the victim of wrongful arrest, the police continued the legal process against Christian and now he remains on death row, Father Siswantoko said.

Talita Kara, Christian’s daughter also questioned the effectiveness of the death penalty.

“After [previous] executions, we still find drugs everywhere,” she said, adding that she hoped no more people would become victims like her father.

She also called on the government to look closely at drug trafficking cases, and evaluate the implementation of the death penalty.

Previously, President Widodo claimed that 4.5 million people used illicit drugs, with 40-50 young people dying from drug-related issues every day.

On Jan. 11, the Cirebon District Court in West Java handed down a death penalty to six out of nine defendants for trafficking 40 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and 180,000 ecstasy pills in March 2016.

In 2016, the National Narcotics Agency seized 990 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 3,051 kilograms of marijuana, and 616,534 ecstasy pills. In total, 196 narcotics-related suspects were going through the courts.

– ucan

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