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March 18 2009 | INDONESIA


Use of death penalty increases

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Indonesia increases use of death penalty

March 17, 2009,

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has overseen a steep increase in the country's use of the death penalty, a human rights group says.

Nineteen people have been executed since Yudhoyono took over in 2004, compared to a total of just four executions under his predecessors Megawati Sukarnoputri and Abdurrahman Wahid, rights group Imparsial says.

"All of Indonesia's presidents have failed to observe human rights, no exception," Imparsial's Bhatara Ibnu Reza told AAP.

"But in practice, SBY has overseen the most executions."

Ten people were executed in 2008, including Bali bombers Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas, who faced a firing squad in November.

Since Yudhoyono was elected, Indonesia's courts have sentenced 57 people to death, including three Australians.

Heroin smugglers Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and Scott Rush - three of the so-called Bali Nine - are currently on death row, with plans to lodge a final legal appeal.

If that appeal is rejected, their only hope will become presidential clemency.

But Yudhoyono - who is expected to hold on to power in this year's presidential election - has previously rejected a number of pleas for death row clemency, and remains firmly anti-drugs.

The Rudd government says it will press for clemency for the trio, but Reza believes its efforts will be undermined by its failure to oppose the Bali bombers' executions.

"The Australian government didn't give a good response when Amrozi and his friends were executed," he said.

"If they want to be consistent about the death penalty, they should have responded the same in both cases."

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