Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – As many as 77 Indonesians on death row in Malaysia might have a chance to serve lighter sentences following some legal reforms in the close neighboring country, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Malaysia recently decided to scrap the mandatory death penalty for a range of serious crimes, including drug trafficking and murder. This does not entirely remove death penalties in Malaysia, and the option for such a sentence still exists for some criminal offenses. However, death penalties are no longer an automatic sentence, and judges now have the option to hand prison terms of 30 to 40 years instead. Malaysia also allows the resentencing of eligible prisoners.
Senior diplomat Judha Nugraha said on Friday that Indonesian diplomatic missions had already visited all prisons in Malaysia to check which of the Indonesian inmates on death row could apply for a resentencing.
"Our diplomatic missions discovered that there were 77 Indonesians who could apply to get their death penalties reviewed. These prisoners are those whose death penalties are already legally binding or are facing life imprisonment," Judha said.
"We will appoint lawyers to provide [the inmates] some legal assistance. Hopefully, they can get their sentence reduced to a prison time between 30 to 40 years instead," Judha said.
As of August 2023, there are currently 168 Indonesians who could face the death penalty abroad. Their cases are of different levels. Some sentences are already legally binding, while the litigation process is still in progress for others. About 110 of those cases are related to drugs, while 58 others are for murder, according to Judha.
About 157 of the said death penalties are in Malaysia. Four Indonesians are facing the death penalty in the United Arab Emirates. Both Saudi Arabia and Laos have 3 death cases involving Indonesians, respectively. The Foreign Ministry also reported one case in fellow ASEAN country Vietnam.
Indonesia also revealed that it had gotten 519 of its citizens out of the death penalty abroad during 2011-2022, with 22 people being released from such punishment last year. However, Indonesia recorded 25 new cases of Indonesians potentially getting sentenced to death in 2022.