JAKARTA (AFP) – New Indonesian President Joko Widodo has pledged there will be no pardons for drug traffickers on death row, including several foreigners, drawing criticism Wednesday from rights groups.
Two Australian drug smugglers, part of the “Bali Nine” group caught trying to smuggle heroin, are on death row as well as a British grandmother arrested for attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country.
The Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, lodged an appeal for clemency with Indonesia’s previous president, their last chance to avoid the firing squad after their final court appeals were rejected.
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, sentenced to death last year, has lost her final appeal in court. It is not clear whether she has yet lodged a request for a presidential pardon.
However Widodo, who took office in October, insisted that the 64 people on death row in Indonesia for trafficking drugs would face the firing squad, dashing hopes he would take a softer line on capital punishment.
“There is no pardon for this matter,” he told an audience of students late Tuesday in Yogyakarta in central Java. “I think we are aware that Indonesia is in a state of emergency due to drugs.”
Widodo said that up to 50 young Indonesians die every day from drug use and there were 4.5 million drug users in the country.
Indonesia enforces some of the world’s toughest punishments for narcotics offences and there is strong public support for putting drug traffickers to death.
But Roichatul Aswidah, from the National Commission on Human Rights, criticised Widodo’s statement as “unexpected”.
“The right to life is a non-negotiable right that must not be limited for any reason,” she was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post newspaper.