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Indonesia Executes Six on Drug Charges

Indonesia executed six convicted on drug charges Jan. 17, rejecting last-minute appeals for clemency from international leaders. Four men from Brazil (possession of 13 kilos of cocaine), Malawi (1 kilo of heroin), Nigeria (1 kilo heroin) and the Netherlands (Ecstasy production) and one Indonesian woman (3 kilos heroin) were put to death by firing squad on Nusakambangan Island, off the southern coast of Java. Another woman from Vietnam (1 kilo of methamphetamine) was executed in Boyolali, in central Java.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders were among world leaders to speak out against the executions. Koenders called them “a cruel and inhumane punishment… an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.” Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors in protest after the executions were carried out. Amnesty International called the executions a “retrograde step” for human rights.

The last executions in Indonesia took place in 2013, when two foreigners convicted of drug smulling—from Pakistan and Malawi—were sent to the wall along with three convicted murderers. Newly elected President Joko Widodo has pledged a policy of “shock therapy” against drug traffickers and dealers, claiming a national “emergency,” with up to 50 Indonesians dying every day due to drug abuse.

Australia, for its part, said it will continue to work on behalf of the “Bali Nine,” Australian nationals convicted of attempting to smuggle some 10 kilos of heroin out of Indonesia, two of whom are on death row. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, “I don’t believe that executing people is the answer to solving the drug problem.”

Nigerian authorities also pledged to work for a prisoner transfer agreement to spare the lives of 12 Nigerians also on death row in Indonesia. There are a total of 138 people on death row in Indonesia. Some have pointed out the irony that Indonesia is meanwhile working to save the life of one of its own nationals on death row in Saudi Arabia.

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