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Terima Kasih
254 Jun 2015

Workshop for Indonesian Lawyers on Safeguards for Fair Trials in Death Penalty Cases

Workshop for Indonesian Lawyers on Safeguards for Fair Trials
in Death Penalty Cases

International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) and the Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

4 & 5 June 2015
Jakarta, Indonesia

The Workshop was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 4 & 5 June 2015. The first day of the workshopexplored the issue of death penalty from the perspectives of international human rights laws and situated them in the Indonesian context. On the last day of the workshop, the participants were actively engaged in the strategic planning and drafting of follow up recommendations that serve as rough guidelines for the participants to kickstart a comprehensive, national campaign to abolish death penalty after the Workshop. In sum, the Workshop marked a milestone in the country's journey to end the practice of death penalty. It was first to produce a wide coalition of legal practitioners and CSOs spread across the country from Aceh to Papua, all united in a common goal to end death penalty in Indonesia.

The Workshop was attended by lawyers and advocates, from both the private sector and non-governmental organizations who were involved in death penalty cases. Various embassies, namely the Dutch Embassy, the United Kingdom Embassy, and the French Embassy, also sat in on the Workshop. Of the twenty-five (25) participants invited, 24 (twenty four) people attended the Workshop. They represented a diverse array of organizations, inter alia:ICJR (1), Reprieve (1), Susanto Lawfirm (1),  LeIP (2), LBH Masyarakat (1), JPIC-OMI (1), Migrant Care (1), LBH YAPHI Solo (1), LBH Jakarta (1) , Somasi NTB (1), PIAR NTB (1), KontraS Surabaya (1), KontraS Medan (1), KontraS Aceh (1), LBH Bandung (1), Humanum (1), YLBHI (1), ELSAM (1), Utomo Karim Lawfirm (4), MAPPI FHUI (1).

The Workshop invited experts who worked and advocated death penalty issues to share their insights and knowledge. The experts represented both the academia and practitioner in order to provide a comprehensive, insightful, and practical view on death penalty. The lawyerswho presented at the Workshop came from both Indonesian and overseas organizations, namely Bar Council Malaysia, the Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS-Indonesia), Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG-the Phillipines) and the Team Lawyers of Mary Jane Viesta Veloso (the death penalty inmate from the Philippines) from Rudyantho and Partners. The other presenters came from various background, the list included Claudia Stoicescu, a PhD Candidate in Social intervention at Oxford University, United Kingdom, who investigated the faulty statistical method used by Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency to make claims about "drug crisis" in the country1, Robertus Robet, asociologist from the Jakarta State University, and last, Anggara, the Chairman of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR).

The first day of the Workshop sought to deepen the knowledge of the international human rights perspective on death penalty issues. The workshop officially began with an opening remark fromHaris Azhar, the Coordinator of KontraS, and Emmerlyne Gil, the Senior Legal Advisor of ICJ.

Next, the first session provided an overview of the death penalty practice in Indonesia and the legal challenges faced by those who awaited death penalty in Indonesia. During this session, the speakers presented an analysis of the political situation in Jokowi's era and its impact on the practice of death penalty practice in the country in light of the recent waves of executions.The speakers It noted that the death penalty had only recently found itself in the centre of public debates.Moreover, the first and second batches of executions had also exclusively targeted drug dealers. Quite disturbingly, the decisions to execute was primarily based on the ‘drug emergency' drawn from the faulty statistics from the country's National Narcotics Agency. Finally, this session also brought the attention tovarious other themes, including the general nationalist sentiment among the public, the inconsistency of the decision to grant clemency, the importance of strengthening the labor movement to support the advocacy to end death penalty, the detailed facts and judicial process of the death penalty case of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso from the Philippines, and the regional-international support to abolish the death penalty.

The second session looked at the elements of international human rights law that could be used as a tool to advocate the abolishment ofdeath penalty in Indonesia. Haris Azhar from KontraS explained the efforts that had been undertaken by lawyers and civil societies in Indonesia to put pressures on the government to abolish death penalty. The next speaker was Emerlynne Gil from ICJ. Gil explained the emerging trend within the international legal community to regarddeath penalty as violations of international law. This session started a vigorousdiscussion about the  correct strategies to strengthen national advocacy against death penalty in the context of ongoing process of verdict and execution in Indonesia, the flaws in the legal and judicial process in Indonesiacovering the root causestoenforcement problems on the ground, such as abuse of inmates. The discussion on international human rights law pertaining to the practice of death penalty put particular emphasis onthe right to life enshrined in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and various jus cogens as well as costumary international laws.

The third session refuted the deterrence effect argument commonly used to justify death penalty especially in cases involving drug-related crimes. The speakers were Anggara from the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) and Claudia Stoicescu from Oxford University. Anggara explained the statistical data used by the District Court, Higher Court and Supreme Court in deciding executions.Anggara highlighted that death penalty required a flawless and perfectly fair judiciary process. This included but not limited to providing competent lawyers to the accused, sworn interpretersfor foreign nationals, and the compliance to anti-torture law at all stages of the judiciary process. Anggara argued that the death penalty trials Indonesia were far short from meeting these standards. Elaborating further on the "drug emergency" statistics—which claims that 40 to 50 Indonesians died per day because of the drugs-abuse—produced by Indonesia's National Narcotics Agency,Claudia explained that these statistics were produced by questionable methods that employed vague measures and certainly were not in compliance of international standards. As a result, the government's argument to conduct executions based on these statistics could hardly be justified.

The final session explored the role of lawyers in ensuring protection and legal aid to those who faced the death penalty. This session was lead by Attorney June Viterbo from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), an anti-death penalty advocacy organization in the Philippines. Attorney Viterbo explained the process that the Philippines undertook before the government eventually abolished the death penalty permanently.Attorney Viterbo also cited examples of the strategies used in anti-death penalty campaigns in the Philippines, including how to strengthen the social movements by engaging religious groups, drawing support from interested international actors, pushing the government to ratify the optional protocols of the ICCPR,  and finally encouraging parliament to draft an anti death penalty law.

1 Claudia Stoicescu is the author of international journal in The Lancet, with the title: Evidence-informed response to illicit drugs in Indonesia. The article can be found at