Indonesia readies prison island for drug convict executions

AP News
Posted: Jul 26, 2016 5:33 AM
Indonesia readies prison island for drug convict executions

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia has beefed up security at Nusa Kambangan prison island as authorities prepare to execute people convicted of drug crimes for the third time since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was elected in 2014.

The head of prisons in Central Java province said Tuesday that about 1,000 police have been sent to Cilacap, the town nearest the maximum security island, and that the prison is waiting for the attorney general's order to carry out the executions.

The government hasn't announced a date for the executions or the number of people. An official familiar with the plans said 13 people would be executed by firing squad shortly after midnight Friday. The official requested anonymity because he wasn't permitted to speak publicly about the matter.

It would be the third set of executions under Jokowi, who campaigned on promises to improve human rights in Indonesia. His 2-year-old administration has executed almost as many people as were executed in the previous decade.

Last year, Indonesia executed 14 people convicted of drug crimes, mostly foreigners, sparking an international outcry.

An Indonesian woman and a Pakistani man convicted of drug trafficking have been moved to Nusa Kambangan since the weekend, joining other death row prisoners already there.

"Everything will be ready soon, then we will only be waiting for the order," said Molyanto, the prisons head, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name.

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The government says the death penalty is necessary for drug crimes because Indonesia is facing a drug epidemic, particularly affecting young people.

Lawyers and groups opposed to capital punishment have criticized plans for more executions. They say that the death penalty is not preventing the spread of drug use, and that some of the convictions are questionable because of police corruption and flawed courts.

More than 130 people are on death row in Indonesia.