Reprieve Project

Indonesia was for many years considered a low application state in its use of the death penalty. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who led Indonesia from 2004-2014, reportedly had a deep personal dislike of the death penalty, and Indonesia appeared to be slowly moving toward abolition. But that changed when President Joko Widodo came to power in late 2014.

The man commonly known as Jokowi believes Indonesia is in the grip of a drug crisis and has said that the death penalty is an essential component of his efforts to tackle narcotics crime. Eighteen people convicted of drug offenses – most of them foreigners – have been put to death in two years under President Widodo.

The execution of Bali Nine leaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in April 2015 caused a major spike in interest in Indonesian criminal law and procedure among activists, journalists, analysts and lawyers in Australia. But clear and accurate information on Indonesian law and policy relating to the death penalty was hard to come by.


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by Humphrey King.

It was in this context that Reprieve Australia approached the Asian Law Centre and the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at Melbourne Law School to ask for assistance to update its public information on death penalty law and practice in Indonesia, as well as a number of other Asian countries. Reprieve is a non-governmental organisation that works to bring an end to the death penalty worldwide. Its Australian branch is led by Bali Nine lawyer Julian McMahon.

Research assistants Tim Mann and Aditya Tumakaka completed the Indonesia section. The project updated Reprieve's website to provide easily accessible information for lawyers and journalists seeking to understand how the Indonesian legal system approaches executions. It also involved preparing more detailed information on past cases and important judicial decisions suitable for lawyers who contact Reprieve.

The project was completed at a time when Indonesia was preparing for a third round of executions under President Widodo. It served to underline the numerous procedural violations in many of these cases and the tragic consequences of Indonesia's current death penalty policy.

Report prepared by: Tim Mann