#AnimatED: Mercy isn’t inconsistent with rule of law

Respect the rule of law. Respect Indonesia’s laws.

Over and over, these lines have been used by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and other Indonesian officials to reject calls from other countries and human rights activists to put an end to the use of the death penalty.

So let’s talk about Indonesia’s laws.

Clemency is part of it. Showing mercy is a presidential prerogative granted by the Indonesian Constitution. It was that same prerogative that Jokowi used in March when he signed a decree saying a man convicted of premeditated murder won’t face the firing squad anymore. 

Will granting clemency to a man who planned the murder of a family to rob them embolden other would-be murderers? President Jokowi, perhaps, does not believe so.

So why deny clemency to drug convicts who have been rehabilitated inside prison or who don’t even deserve capital punishment in the first place?

Indonesia is facing a drug emergency, officials say. The death penalty is necessary to fight it, they claim.

Will deciding that convicted drug traffickers should spend the rest of their lives in prison be any less effective a deterrent than the death penalty? Will executing drug mules – often vulnerable people who have been taken advantage of or tricked like Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso – give drug syndicates pause?

President Jokowi, showing mercy to those who deserve it is not inconsistent with Indonesia’s laws. Clemency is not a sign of weakness.

What weakens the rule of law is inconsistent implementation. Such as courts deciding that someone like Veloso deserves to die even when she did not have any prior arrests or convictions, while ruling that someone like Indonesian citizen Srie Moetarini Evianti, who was convicted of the same crime as Veloso, deserves to live because she did not have any prior convictions.

What makes a country’s rule of law questionable is ignoring jurisprudence. Such as when a case review request is granted to a Thai national sentenced to death because she wasn’t given a proper translator, but a similar request from a Filipino national who also wasn’t given a proper translator is rejected.

President Jokowi, we respect Indonesia’s laws. But we call for mercy for drug convicts on death row who don't deserve to be there. – Rappler.com