Capital punishment in Indonesia

Capital punishment in Indonesia is restricted to 16 crimes. Though the death penalty existed as a punishment from the inception of the Republic of Indonesia, the first execution did not take place until 1973.[1]

The Indonesian government does not issue detailed statistics about every person facing the death penalty in the country. In fact, "the search for precise figures is hampered by prevailing state secrecy over the death penalty."[2] It is believed, however, that there are around 130 people, Indonesians and foreign nationals, currently (as of 2013?) sentenced to die in Indonesia. About ten new death sentences are handed down annually, though executions are infrequent. Many of the prisoners awaiting execution have been waiting for ten years or more. Four executions took place in 2013, the first since 2008. In 2014, no executions took place. In January 2015 six people (among them one Dutchman, one Brazilian, one Vietnamese, one Malawian and Nigerian) were shot for drug-related crimes.[3] Further executions are planned for 2015.[4] Ironically, Indonesia is well noted as "a strong advocate against the death penalty for its citizens abroad."[5]


Prisoners (particularly those convicted of murder, terrorism or drug trafficking offences) spend a long time in prison before their sentence is finally carried out. Usually their final appeal has been exhausted through the courts and President. Prisoners and their families are notified 72 hours in advance of their pending execution.[6] They are usually transferred to Nusa Kambangan island.[6] They are woken up in the middle of the night and taken to a remote (and undisclosed) location and executed by firing squad. The method has not changed since 1964.[7]

Capital punishment is carried out in Indonesia by a firing squad. The blindfolded prisoner is led to a grassy area where they have an option to sit or stand.[7] The 12 armed executioners shoot the prisoner in the chest from a range of five to ten metres.[7] Only three fire live bullets and the rest fire blanks.[7] If the prisoner does not die, the Commander is required to issue a final bullet to the prisoner's head.[8]

Statutory provisions

The following is a list of the criminal offenses that carry the death penalty in Indonesia:[9]

Execution statistics

Indonesia ended a four-year moratorium on the death penalty with the execution of Adami Wilson, a citizen of Malawi, on March 14, 2013.[10]

On May 17, 2013, three more prisoners were executed at Nusa Kambangan Prison on an island off the coast of Java. All three were sentenced to die for murder. Suryadi Swabuana was convicted of the premeditated murder of a family in Sumatra in 1991; Jurit bin Abdullah and Ibrahim bin Ujang were convicted of a joint murder in Sekayu, South Sumatra, in 2003.[11]

Executions in Indonesia in the Post-Suharto era:[12]

Foreign nationals

The people on death row include foreign nationals, all but one of whom were convicted of drug-related offences. These foreign inmates come from 18 different countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Ghana, India, Iran, Malawi, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.[12]

Court cases

In 2007, the Indonesian Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi Republik Indonesia) upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty for drug cases, by a vote of six to three.[15] The case was brought by prisoners sentenced to death for drug crimes, including some of the Bali 9, a group of Australian citizens sentenced to prison and the death penalty for drug trafficking in Bali in 2005.


  1. Hood, Roger (2003). The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0199251292.
  2. Daniel Pascoe. "Three Coming Legal Challenges to Indonesia’s Death Penalty Regime".
  3. Wall Street Journal: Indonesia Executes 6 Drug Convicts, Including 5 Foreigners
  4. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH (17 January 2015). "Empörung über Todesstrafe: Indonesien lässt fünf Ausländer erschießen". FAZ.NET.
  5. Andrew Novak. "The Future of the Mandatory Death Penalty in Malaysia and Singapore: "Asian Values" and Abolition in Comparative Perspective, with Implications for Indonesia".
  6. 6.0 6.1 Emily Crane and Nelson Groom and Candace Sutton (2015-01-07). "Bali Nine drug smuggler could be given just 72 HOURS notice before he faces a firing squad after Indonesian President rejects his plea to be spared execution". Dailymail. Dailymail. Retrieved 2015-01-22.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Cormack, Lucy (2015-01-17). "Drug traffickers in Indonesia face firing squad of 12 in first executions of 2015". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-01-17.
  8. "Indonesia widens use of executions". New York Times. 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  9. KontraS, The Death Penalty (2006)
  10. "Indonesia executes first convict in four years". Jakarta Globe. 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  11. "Indonesia steps up killing of death row prisoners". The Age. 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "The Death Penalty (Hukuman Mati)". Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS). 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  13. Karmini, Niniek (18 January 2015). "Indonesia executes 6 drug convicts, including 5 foreigners". Yahoo News. AP. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  14. "'Bali Nine' Executed". CNN. 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  15. "Decision No. 2-3/PUU-V/2007" (PDF). 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2013-05-30.