Gordon Campbell on Indonesia’s latest round of executions
To no-one’s real surprise, Indonesia has carried out its second wave of executions this year. Given the varied nationalities of the drug convicts put to death – from Africa, Australia and South America – Indonesia’s relatively new President Joko Widodo seems to have firmly turned his back on the progress that South-East Asia had been making recently on capital punishment.
Reciprocity had been a driver of those positive changes. Earlier this decade, both Malaysia and Singapore brought in law changes to reduce the scope of the death penalty, and – before Widodo arrived on the scene – Indonesia did in 2012 commute the death sentence of a drug trafficker. Reciprocity was the main reason, as the US academic Sandra Babcock pointed out in the Northwestern Law Journal :
When Malaysia’s government announced that it would likely abolish the mandatory death penalty for certain categories of drug traffickers, Law Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz explained that close to 250 Malaysians had been arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death in countries such as China: “[H]ow are we to appeal for leniency from other governments for Malaysians who are in death row in their countries when we hand out the death sentence?” Seventy-five Indonesians on Malaysia’s death row would be affected by this change in the law.