Indonesia: detention conditions of people sentenced to death
How is daily life while waiting for death?
No execution has been recorded since 2016. The number of sentences, however, has been on the rise. Since 2014, Indonesia has increased its efforts in the war on drugs after Indonesian President Widodo described it as a “national emergency”. Over the last five years, the number of death sentences has soared, with the majority of those sentenced to death for drug related offences being women and foreign nationals. Prisoners sentenced for drug offences are not eligible to apply for any form of clemency.
Living conditions and daily activities vary considerably from one prison to another according to the level of security and occupancy rate. Some prisoners are allowed to leave their cells during the day and participate in activities. Others who are detained in “super-maximum security” prisons are kept under 24-hour surveillance and only have access to a limited number of authorised books.
Nusakambangan, a “prison island”1, also known as “execution island”, is located off the coast of Java in the Indonesian archipelago. It is home to several high-security facilities in which numerous prisoners sentenced to death are held. Prisoners on the island report living under exceptionally restrictive conditions. They declare having more difficulty seeing their lawyer, receiving family visits and obtaining medicines and items from outside the prison.
Prison Insider gathered information on the detention conditions of prisoners sentenced to death in nine countries. Here is an overview of the situation in Indonesia.
— The information presented comes principally from the report Dehumanized: the prison conditions of people sentenced to death in Indonesia, produced by Carole Berrih and KontraS for Together Against the Death Penalty (Ensemble contre la peine de mort, ECPM) in 2019. Additional sources were also used which are mentioned when referenced.
Nusakambangan : “prison island”, a 210 km2 island off the coast of Java which served as a penal colony under the Dutch regime. It is home to several high-security prisons and is also where executions are carried out. ↩
Merri Utami was sentenced to death after airport authorities found drugs in her handbag. She is awaiting her execution. The video “The Death Penalty for Drug Offences – Merri Utami” tells her story.
In 2015, 13 people were executed. Most of them were foreign nationals convicted of drug-trafficking. Despite the international community’s condemnation of these executions, President Joko Widodo rejected all pleas for clemency.