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Indonesia urged to block moves to introduce beheading as punishment for murder

ABC Radio Australia - March 16, 2018

Anne Barker – Amnesty International has urged Indonesia to step in and block moves to introduce beheading as a punishment for murder in the country's conservative Aceh province.

The argument that beheading has a deterrent effect on crime is baseless and unacceptable, the human rights organisation said.

"There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect on crime, no matter how shocking the method of execution is," Usman Hamid, the organisation's Indonesia executive director, said.

"The Aceh administration cannot use its special autonomous status in order to introduce laws and policies that flagrantly violate human rights."

The Sharia Government in Aceh revealed it was considering the introduction of beheading, in order to reduce the number of murders in Aceh.

The Government said it would carry out research later this year to gauge public opinion on the plan – if a majority of people supported the idea it would be implemented.

It said it wanted to follow the lead of countries including Saudi Arabia, which "effectively reduced the number of murders" after implementing beheading as a punishment.

"Beheading is more in line with Islamic law and will cause a deterrent effect... a strict punishment is made to save human beings," Syukri M. Yusuf, the head of Aceh's Shariah Law and Human Rights Office, said on Wednesday. "We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed."

Aceh and Indonesia as a whole should get rid of the death penalty altogether, Amnesty International said.

"The authorities need to focus on the root causes of crime and informed debates on the death penalty as a human rights violation, and swiftly move to abolish this ultimate, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."

Aceh introduces Sharia law, lashes gay men

Aceh is the only Indonesian province to introduce Sharia law, under a special autonomy agreement reached with the Government in Jakarta more than a decade ago.

Since then, the province has become increasingly hard line, routinely caning people for minor crimes such as alcohol consumption and gambling. Last year, two men were sentenced to 85 lashes of the cane for gay sex, the first such punishment of its kind.

Consensual same-sex relations are not treated as a crime under the existing Indonesia Criminal Code – the Indonesian Government is currently drafting laws that would criminalise gay sex and sex between unmarried couples.

Amnesty International has urged the Government in Jakarta to intervene and block moves in Aceh to introduce the "gruesome" penalty of beheading.

"Aceh, and Indonesia as a whole, must immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to its eventual repeal," Mr Hamid said.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime: guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

It has said 106 countries today have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and more than two-thirds of the world's countries are abolitionist in law or practice.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2018-03-16/death-penalty-indonesia-urged-to-block-moves-to-introduce-beheading-as-punishment-for-murder/1742966