04/07/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Human rights activists are not giving up on three Indonesian Catholics

by Benteng Reges
Several human rights groups released a statement yesterday demanding that the death sentence imposed on Tibo and his co-accused be overturned; they also called for the abolition of the death penalty. Everyone is waiting for President Susilo's decision on a second appeal for pardon.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Human rights activists are not stopping their fight to save three Indonesian Catholics sentenced to death and whose execution is thought to be imminent. Despite the decision by Indonesia's Supreme Court against reopening the case in view of new evidence that could exonerate Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu, several human rights associations released a statement yesterday calling for the death sentence be overturned; among the groups, there is the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Association of Legal Aid in Indonesia (PBHI) and the Jakarta Legal Aid Agency (LBH). Furthermore, the press release also said that the "[d]eath penalty is against humanity and should be abolished since it is against Constitution. We strongly demand that the death penalty imposed on Tibo [and the others] be overturned."

At a press conference held yesterday in the LBH Jakarta offices, various human rights activists voiced their deepest concern over the inflexibility shown by the Attorney General Office and the Supreme Court. "Both are more concerned with the letter of the law and fail to consider one of its fundamental aspects, namely respect for humanity and human rights," they said.

According to Papang Hidayat, from Kontras, the death penalty per se is a violation of a person's human rights, which should guarantee every citizen the right to life.

PBHI's Johnson Panjaitan and LBH's Taufik Basari agree. "Our legal system, which gives prosecutors the right to enforce death penalties, is a legacy of the old Dutch criminal code. The spirit of colonialism has no right to exist any more".

In their appeal the activists also refer to the cases of Samudra, Muklas and Amrozi who were sentenced to death last year for their involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing.  

"Terrorist attacks are still a serious threat to our country even though attackers are behind bars waiting for execution," Papang said. "Their death is not going to automatically remove risks and lessen evil. [Instead] carrying out the death penalty will preclude any possibility for the convicted terrorists to repent".

The last hope now for the three Catholics sentenced to death for their alleged involvement in the 2000 massacre of Muslims in Poso (Central Sulawesi) lies with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has not yet responded to a second appeal for pardon made a few weeks ago by the families and attorneys of Fabianus Tibo and his two co-accused.

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