Indonesian ombudsman says rights of executed Nigerian drug pusher were violated

INDONESIA'S legal ombudsman has unearthed evidence of human rights violations concerning the execution of Nigerian drug convict Humphrey Ejike Jefferson in 2016 after it emerged he was executed before his appeal process had been concluded.


According to Ninik Rahayu, an official of the ombudsman’s office who is overseeing the case, Mr Jefferson was still seeking clemency from President Joko Widodo at the time of his execution. Technically, this meant he still had a chance of being pardoned and if the court had taken on Jefferson’s case, his execution would have had to be delayed until its final verdict.


In 2004, Mr Jefferson was sentenced to death but he had sought a second judicial review of his case by the Supreme Court. However,  his request was denied by the Central Jakarta court without proper explanation, Ms Rahayu said, in what she called maladministration.


Ms Rahayu said: “When one is given the death penalty, all of the procedures must be done according to the laws. The rights of the person must be fully met before his sentence is carried out, as you can’t bring back the dead to life.”


Also, Ms Rahayu said the attorney-general’s office, responsible for conducting the execution, had not followed rules requiring it to give Mr Jefferson and his family 72 hours’ notice of the event. However, Muhammad Rum, a spokesman for the attorney-general’s office, maintained that the execution was done according to law.


Supreme Court spokesman, Judge Suhadi, did not comment on the specific case but said the court did not generally grant a second review. Mr Jefferson, two other Nigerians and an Indonesian were the only prisoners to face the firing squad on July 29 last year, from a group of 14 picked initially.


Their executions were the second such cases under President Widodo, whose predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. Many international bodies and foreign governments have urged Indonesia to pardon those on death row, asking the country to abolish capital punishment but these calls have gone unheeded.


President Widodo has told law enforcement officers not to hesitate in shooting drug traffickers who resist arrest in the war on drugs. Mr Jefferson’s lawyer, Ricky Gunawan, said he planned to use the ombudsman’s findings to file a civil lawsuit against the office of the attorney-general, seeking compensation for his client.