UN chief expresses ‘deep regret’ about executions of eight people in Indonesia

Photo: UNAIDS/D. Gutu

29 April 2015 – The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon today expressed his deep regret over executions carried out in Indonesia on April 29 despite numerous calls in the country and abroad for a reprieve.

In a statement released today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson in New York, the Secretary-General again urged the Government to exercise its authority and commute all death sentences, also reaffirming his belief that the death penalty has no places in the 21st century.

He said that the growing majority of the international community shared his conviction, demonstrating as much in a vote in the UN General Assembly in December 2014, when a record 117 States voted for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

The sentences were carried out despite an appeal by Mr. Ban on Saturday for Indonesia to refrain from executing those convicted. In a statement issued at the time, Mr. Ban recalled that under international law, if the death penalty is to be used at all, it should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, namely those involving intentional killing, and only with appropriate safeguards.

Drug-related offenses generally are not considered to fall under the category of “most serious crimes,” and today’s statement concluded with Mr. Ban urging all countries where the death penalty is still in place to join the movement and declare a moratorium on capital punishment with a view toward abolition.

Echoing that sentiment, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Coleville issued statement today underscoring that the High Commissioner, the Secretary-General, and other key UN entities had urged Indonesia time and time again not to proceed with these executions.

“We appeal once again most strenuously to Indonesia to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty,” he said, noting: “Indonesia appeals for clemency when its own nationals face execution in other countries, so it is incomprehensible why it absolutely refuses to grant clemency for lesser crimes on its own territory.”

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