There is a clear, longstanding and worldwide trend towards the restriction or abolition of the death penalty. Yet, the number of countries expanding the application of the death penalty to include drug offences has increased. Indeed, between 1979 and 2015, the number of countries prescribing the death penalty for drugs increased from around 10 to 33, and at least 10 of these countries impose the death penalty for drugs as a mandatory sanction. Every year, as many as 1,000 people are executed annually for drug offences worldwide, though data secrecy in some countries means the true number is not known and could in fact be higher. Many of those killed are low level couriers, duped or coerced into carrying drugs across international borders, or forced by economic necessity into taking risks. This is particularly true in Asia, which is home to several of the most prolific death penalty states. For this reason, the region continues to be a key terrain for anti-death penalty advocacy.
“Comprehensive Actions Against the Death Penalty for Drug Offences” is a 3-year project led by Harm Reduction International and implemented with Indonesian partner, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) based in Jakarta. Building on HRI’s groundbreaking work on the death penalty for drugs, the project aims to continue to contribute to the reduced application of the death penalty for drug offences globally, and in Indonesia specifically.
During the course of the project, HRI will continue to undertake its global research and monitoring on the death penalty for drug offences worldwide, but with a specific focus on Indonesia and other key countries in the region. This will be supplemented by ongoing engagement and advocacy on the abolition of the death penalty for drug offences in key multilateral fora, capacity building for relevant civil society stakeholders, and the organisation of regional networking meetings to bring together abolitionist and drug policy reform and harm reduction advocates.
At the national level, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform in Indonesia will map national legislation related to the death penalty, create a database on the death penalty in Indonesia, monitor and map death penalty executions, and conduct important research on fair trials in the country.
Photo Nigel Brunsdon, Release Museum of Drug Policy, from the "Waiting Girls" by Sadegh Souri.
Cinzia Brentari (project manager): Cinzia.Brentari@hri.global
Gen Sander (human rights analyst): Gen.Sander@hri.global