Death Penalty and the Road Ahead: A Case Study of Indonesia
Source TitleALC Briefing Paper Series
PublisherAsian Law Centre, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne Author/sTaylor, Kathryn
AffiliationAsian Law Centre
Document TypeWorking Paper
CitationsLubis, T. M. (2015). Death Penalty and the Road Ahead: A Case Study of Indonesia. Asian Law Centre, University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLPublished version
Indonesia has been criticised nationally and internationally for its use of the death penalty. Critics argue the death penalty does not deter crime and there has never been any solid empirical evidence suggesting it can. They say the objective of punishment should be to re-educate and rehabilitate people, giving them the opportunity to reintegrate with society, not to kill them. Globally only a small number of states still execute. Indonesia does give weight to these objections but domestic support for the death penalty still seems overwhelming. Few governments anywhere are willing to abolish the death penalty if they have to pay a high political cost and the government of President Joko Widodo is no exception. Some sort of compromise or alternative has to be found. One solution would be to formulate a policy respecting human rights (especially the right to life) but still allowing executions in exceptional circumstances. The Indonesian government seems to be trying to do this in its new draft Criminal Code. This says that if a death row convict demonstrates rehabilitation, his or her sentence can be reduced to either life or 20 years in prison. If this had been the law earlier this year, it could have saved the two Australians recently executed, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. Debate on the Draft of Criminal Code is a perfect opportunity for both proponents and opponents of the death penalty. There is, however, a new momentum towards abolition in Indonesia, and this paper argues that it should be used to the maximum possible extent to prevent more executions, and outlines a strategy for how this might be done.
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