Taiwan warns citizens after 11 sentenced to death in Indonesia

Jakarta, Nov. 20  Taiwan’s representative to Indonesia warned Taiwan nationals on Monday not to treat legal penalties in Indonesia lightly, emphasizing that 11 Taiwanese have been sentenced to death for drug related crimes in the country in recent years.

The severity of punishments has also increased as part of a crackdown on drug crimes by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, according to John Chen (陳忠), head of the Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Indonesia.

Chen said Widodo has ordered law enforcement officers to “gun down” drug traffickers if necessary, especially those from foreign countries as part of ongoing efforts to end the narcotics emergency facing the nation.

No one should doubt these instructions, Chen advised, urging Taiwanese people “not for one moment to consider smuggling drugs to Indonesia.”

Since last year, four Taiwanese suspects have been shot and killed while resisting arrest in the country. There are also more than 30 Taiwanese detained in prisons across the nation after being arrested for drug trafficking, according to Indonesian official data.

The data also shows that 11 Taiwanese nationals have currently been sentenced to death for drug convictions, including three already on death row.

The other eight received their sentence from either a district or high court. However, given the imposition of such severe punishments against drug criminals over the past few years, it is widely believed there is little to no chance of the supreme court commuting the sentences of individuals convicted of drug related crimes.

Statistics from Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency in a 2015 report indicated that approximately 33 people die of drug overdoses every day in the country, and that the narcotics problems resulted in economic losses to the country of US$4.8 billion in 2014.

In 2016, Indonesia seized 250 metric tons of drugs coming into the country, with China the largest source, according to the agency.


Indonesia’s struggling economy cannot afford another execution, Bali Nine lawyer warns

Indonesia’s struggling economy could be one reason why there has been little word of the country’s next round of executions, according to the lead lawyer for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Australians Chan and Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine, were among several foreigners shot dead in April.
According to high-profile Indonesian lawyer and professor Todung Mulya Lubis, who has been in Australia to talk about an ongoing campaign against the death penalty, it is too early to say if the economic slowdown was contributing to a de facto moratorium.
“But I believe that Jokowi now realises that he has to pay the price for those two executions,” Professor Lubis said.
Late last year Indonesian president Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, said there would be no clemency for more than 60 people convicted of drugs offences, and two rounds of executions were carried out in the early part of 2015.
Indonesia’s economic growth has now dipped below 5 per cent for two consecutive quarters this year, and much needed foreign investment is yet to pour in to help build up the nation’s depleted infrastructure.
“The economy is not good at the moment,” Professor Lubis said.
“We have a problem with our debt, you know, the balance. We have a problem with the weakening of the Indonesian currency.
“We have a problem with declining exports to other countries. And we cannot afford to have another execution, as simple as that.”
The shooting of Chan and Sukumaran and several others, including a Brazilian man with mental health issues, saw substantial international pressure, including from the United Nations, put on the president.
The first round of executions in February resulted in a diplomatic stoush with Brazil, with some Indonesian politicians raising the idea of trade recriminations.
Mr Widodo was also supported domestically for pushing back against what was seen to be international meddling and for taking a strong stance against the drug trade.
Widodo ‘knows new investment is not coming’
In the lead-up to the execution Mr Widodo was quietly advised by some prominent Indonesians of the damage using the death penalty could cause to relations with other countries including Australia, Holland, France and Brazil.
Now, with Indonesia recording its lowest economic growth rate for six years, investors are generally staying on the sidelines, waiting to see if the new government can deliver reforms, including dealing with regulatory certainty.
Professor Lubis is also known for his work with large corporate entities, and said he was seeing first-hand the nervousness in the business community about government policies.
Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, Frenchman Serge Atlaoui
“Jokowi realises, he understands, new investment is not coming to Indonesia,” he said.
“Even the existing investment cannot be maintained. They may go any time.
“And I as a lawyer come across that. I know some of the companies … are considering leaving, so that is not very good.”
“I know some of the companies we work with are considering leaving.”
A Frenchman and a Filipino woman escaped the firing squad in late April, and Indonesia’s attorney-general has signalled a third round of executions has not yet been scheduled.
A 59-year-old British woman is among those facing the death penalty as part of the president’s hardline stance.
Source: ABC News, Helen Brown, August 31, 2015


Philippines bids to save Mary Jane Veloso from execution in Indonesia

July 29, 2015

Woman who says she was duped into smuggling drugs was given last-minute reprieve from firing squad but remains on death row
Officials from the Philippines arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday to discuss a case against drug traffickers that they hope can prove that a Filipino former domestic worker was tricked into smuggling heroin and save her from a firing squad.
Mary Jane Veloso was given a temporary reprieve by Indonesian president Joko Widodo just hours before she was due to be executed in April. Eight men were killed by firing squad that day.
Her alleged trafficker had handed herself in to the police in Manila, and the Philippines president, Benigno Aquino, made a last-minute appeal on the basis that Veloso would be needed as a witness in the case against her alleged recruiter.
“Primarily we are updating the Indonesian government on progress made in the case of Mary Jane Veloso,” Filipino department of foreign affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose told the Guardian.
The Philippines justice secretary, Leila de Lima, has set up a special taskforce to investigate the drug traffickers, which could prove the argument made by her supporters that Veloso is a victim of human trafficking, not a drug trafficker.
Key to the last-minute reprieve was that the Philippines invoked a regional treaty signed to fight transnational crimes in south-east Asia.
The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) obliges countries to help each other fight crime outside their borders – in this instance, by keeping alive a key witness in a potential human trafficking case.
Jose said officials in Jakarta on Wednesday “will also explore how we can use MLAT in our investigation”.
Indonesia’s attorney general, Muhammad Prasetyo, said later that the discussions were unlikely to save Veloso from death row.
“I reiterate that their demand to free [Veloso] is difficult. This is because she has been found guilty for drug smuggling in Indonesia,” he was quoted as saying by the Indonesian Kompas news website.
An online petition with more than 430,000 signatures says Veloso is from a poor area in the north of the Philippines. It said the single mother of two sons was seeking employment and had no idea heroin was in the lining of her suitcase.


Source: The Guardian, Oliver Holmes in Bangkok and Carmela Fonbuena in Manila, July 29, 2015


Lindsay Sandiford’s death row case raised by David Cameron in Indonesia

July 28, 2015

The Prime Minister, who is on a tour of Indonesia, raises case of British grandmother convicted of dug traffickingLindsay Sandiford in her Kerobokan death-row cell
David Cameron has raised the case of Lindsay Sandiford, the British grandmother on death row, with his Indonesian counterpart.
Mr Cameron discussed her case with President Jokowi of Indonesia at a meeting in Jakarta.
Sandiford, who is in her late fifties and originally from Redcar, Teesside, was sentenced to death in January 2013 in Bali after being convicted of trafficking drugs.
She was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6 million as she arrived in Bali on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand.
She can expect to be killed by firing squad.
Asked about the case, the Prime Minister said: “On the issue of prisoners, I always raise these issues wherever I travel around the world, and will do so here.
“I want to do it in a way I hope will help the family concerned, and obviously will listen to the concerns of the families and their views before doing these things. That is the right way to proceed – to try and help.”
Sandiford admitted the offences, but claimed she had been coerced by threats to her son’s life. She has appealed against the case without success.
In April the Indonesia authorities executed eight convicted drug smugglers, including two Australians, who had been jailed alongside Sandiford. She said she was “deeply saddened” by their “senseless, brutal” deaths.
Source: The Telegraph, Matthew Holehouse, July 27, 2015

Lindsay Sandiford: David Cameron’s death row dilemma

Trade and counter-terrorism co-operation are officially at the top of David Cameron’s agenda on a two-day visit to Indonesia as part of a tour of South East Asia.

But there’s one issue the prime minister might be less keen to talk about.

Lindsay Sandiford, a 59-year-old grandmother, finds herself on death row in Indonesia’s notorious Kerobokan Prison, not knowing when she might face a firing squad.

It’s two-and-half years since the former legal secretary from Cheltenham was sentenced to death after being caught smuggling 4.8kg (10.6lb) of cocaine from Bangkok to Bali.

Her lawyers argued she was pressured into smuggling the drugs by a criminal gang.

She co-operated with the Indonesia police in a sting operation leading to the arrest of several members of that gang.

But at her sentencing hearing in 2013, that co-operation appeared to count for nothing as she was given the death sentence.

All appeal attempts have so far come to nothing.

‘Delicate business’

It is a potentially awkward moment for Mr Cameron.

He is expected to announce hundreds of millions of pounds worth of trade deals with Indonesia.

At the same time a British citizen faces being lined up and shot.

Sandiford’s legal team, which she is struggling to pay for, will be hoping Mr Cameron can exert some pressure on Indonesian President Joko Widodo when the two men meet here in Jakarta.

But it is a delicate business.

In the past such pressure has not worked.

So far this year Indonesia has executed 12 foreigners for drugs offences.

Perhaps the highest profile of them were two Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug ring.

They were executed in April after being caught trying to smuggling 8.3kg (18.2lb) of heroin from Bali to Australia in in 2005.

In their case the Australian government was publicly critical of Indonesia in an effort to get Jakarta to reverse the sentences.

Australian ministers even threatened to cut off foreign aid.

It didn’t work.

Indonesia did not appear to like being told what to do.

‘Risks well-known’

And the death penalty for drugs offences has broad public support in Indonesia.

“Take one life to save the lives of many,” one Indonesian man, who didn’t want to give his name, told us on the beach in Bali.

“Drugs ruin people’s lives.”

And there can be no doubt that smuggling drugs in Indonesia, a country whose harsh treatment of drug offenders is well known, is a very stupid thing to do.

The rewards may be great but so are the risks.

“Britain or Australia don’t criticise the United States which has executed hundreds of people,” the man added.

And there is an element of double standards here.

Nobody realistically expects Britain to jeopardise trade ties with the US where there are 3,000 people currently on death row, including British citizens.

Or with China, which executes thousands of people every year.

In the run-up to the execution of Chan and Sukumaran there were large public demonstrations in support of the Indonesian government.

Lindsay Sandiford

The death penalty is a vote-winner here.

So Mr Cameron is likely to try to avoid talking publicly about Sandiford’s case.

Any pressure will probably be applied discreetly and behind the scenes.

Certainly speaking to Sandiford’s legal team, you get the impression they want to avoid any public criticism of the Indonesian government or justice system.

What they would like is for the British government to help fund Sandiford’s legal costs, something it has so far refused to do despite numerous legal challenges.

So despite Mr Cameron’s visit, Sandiford’s fate remains very much uncertain.

For more than two-and-a-half years, she has sat on death row, not knowing how many days, weeks, months or years she has left to live.


Pardon ‘best scenario’ in Veloso case

July 15, 2015

The Philippines is also asking for access to convicted OFW Mary Jane Veloso, after a string of cases were filed against her alleged recruiters
When asked whether there’s a possibility that Filipina death row inmate convicted of drug trafficking Mary Jane Veloso will be released from prison soon, Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said such possibility is still far out of the picture.
Following the release of the preliminary investigation findings, De Lima said the best scenario for the Philippine government is that Indonesia is convinced Veloso is innocent, and she is granted a pardon.
Commutation of sentence and re-opening of her case are other possibilities.
The Philippine government is asking Indonesia for access to Veloso, after a string of cases were filed against her alleged recruiters, Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, by the DOJ.
De Lima also disclosed that the government requested Indonesia to allow them to see Veloso so they could get her supplemental affidavit, to be used for a case build-up.
“Case build-up does not, or ought not to, stop upon filing of the criminal informations in court. Remember, the required threshold now is guilt beyond reasonable doubt and not just probable cause which was the requirement during the preliminary investigation stage,” De Lima clarified.
Veloso was convicted of smuggling 2.6 kg of heroin into Indonesia and was scheduled for execution by firing squad along with 8 other drug convicts on April 29, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo, granted a reprieve to allow Philippine authorities to pursue criminal charges against her supposed recruiters.
The DOJ recommended the filing of information for violation of Republic Act No. 8402 or The Migrant Worker’s Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 and for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Sergio and Lacanilao.
This time, the cases stemmed from the complaint of Veloso’s family and several other victims of Sergio and Lacanilao.
“The evidence proves that exploitation is the ultimare pupose of complainant’s recruitment. She was exploited, deceived and made to believe that a job as a domestic helper was available for her in Malaysia. Instead, complainant, without her knowledge and against her will, was made to transport prohibited drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia,” the DOJ resolution said.
“The exploitative purpose of using complainant in transporting illegal drugs resulted in the incarceration of herein complainant. Worse, complainant, who was referred and considered by respondents as ‘victim’ will eventually suffer the penalty of death,” it added.
“They (Indonesian authorities) will see that there is basis for the cases against the recruiters who allegedly victimized Mary Jane,” De Lima said. “A finding of probable cause is a finding of probable cause, which we hope to strengthen to meet the threshold of proof beyond reasonable doubt for purposes of trial.”


Mary Jane Veloso: A powerful argument vs death penalty revival

Monday, July 13, 2015

The large number of Filipinos facing the death penalty overseas provides a powerful argument against the revival of capital punishment here at home, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said in a news release Sunday.
“There’s no question our abolition of the death penalty has given us greater leverage to appeal to foreign governments on humanitarian grounds for the lives of our own citizens who are facing execution abroad,” Romulo said.
“We now have the moral high ground. Otherwise, it would be extremely difficult for us to beg for mercy if we ourselves are putting our convicts here to death – if we ourselves have little or no regard for the sanctity of human life,” Romulo said.
Romulo’s remarks came shortly after a group of Filipino migrants expressed fears that Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino on death row in Indonesia, may be executed soon after the end of Ramadan, following a 10-week reprieve.
The Indonesian government is expected to release after July 17 a new list of convicts set to be executed by firing squad, and it may include Veloso, according to Migrante International.
But Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it was still verifying the report with Indonesian authorities.
“We have millions of citizens working or travelling abroad. Many of them are in countries that still carry out executions. These Filipinos may be vulnerable when they get into trouble with the law in their host countries,” Romulo warned.
Romulo said 57 countries around the world still subscribe to capital punishment, and many of them are actively putting convicts to death.
Besides Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, the United States, Kuwait, and Thailand, he said the other countries still performing executions and hosting many Filipino citizens include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Oman, Taiwan, Japan, and Singapore, among others.
“The problem with the death penalty is that once the convict is killed, there’s absolutely no room for correction. We can’t resurrect a dead prisoner, even if somebody else later confesses to having committed the crime for which the convict had been condemned,” Romulo said.
Veloso, 31, was supposed to be executed on April 29, 2015, but obtained a last-minute reprieve after the Philippines asked Indonesia that she be allowed to provide testimonial evidence against her alleged human trafficker, Maria Kristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao.
The Philippine government has since scrambled to build a strong case showing that Veloso was a mere victim of human trafficking, and that she had been exploited by a West African drug syndicate to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin into Jakarta.
Philippine authorities hope to persuade their Indonesian counterparts to reopen Veloso’s case and further suspend her execution by firing squad.
Besides Veloso, at least 88 other Filipinos are known to be on death row abroad — in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, the US, Kuwait, and Thailand.
Of the 88, the DFA said 41 were convicted of drug offenses while the rest were condemned for murder.
Congress reinstated the death penalty for 13 heinous crimes in 1993, only to get rid of it in 2006 due to mounting flaws.
That year, then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban belatedly admitted that a “judicial error” had caused the wrongful execution of incestuous rape convict Leo Echegaray in 1999.
Panganiban said it was proven during trial that Echegaray was not “a father, stepfather, or grandfather” of the victim, and that while the house painter may have been “a common-law spouse of the mother of the victim,” this circumstance was never alleged in the complaint.
The law at that time imposed the death penalty on “rape committed when the victim is under 18 years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the 3rd civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim.”

Read more: