Eight convicted drug smugglers were executed in Indonesia early Wednesday despite international criticism and pleas for clemency. Among those executed by firing squad [Jakarta Post report] were Australian nationals Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, part of the so-called “Bali Nine,” who were arrested in 2005 for recruiting seven others to smuggle heroin from Indonesia into Australia. Also executed Wednesday were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson. Filipina prisoner Mary Jane Veloso was originally scheduled for execution Wednesday but was spared after an individual who allegedly recruited her to smuggle drugs turned herself over to authorities. Rights groups such as Amnesty International [advocacy website] have condemned the executions [press release] as “reprehensible,” saying they show “complete disregard for due process and human rights safeguards.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo [BBC profile] has remained firm in his stance that drug smugglers must face harsh penalties despite international criticism. In February a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged [JURIST report] the Indonesian government to halt all executions of people convicted of drug-related offenses. In January another spokesperson for the OHCHR voiced concern [JURIST report] over the continued use of the death penalty in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The OHCHR reported that eight more people convicted of drug trafficking in Vietnam had been sentenced to death. Also in January Brazil and the Netherlands recalled [JURIST report] their ambassadors from Indonesia after an Indonesian firing squad executed six convicted drug traffickers [JURIST report], sparking international condemnation from human rights groups and foreign leaders.