Friday, December 4, 2015

Evaluation of “End the Death Penalty” Campaign by Amnesty International in Indonesia

(C) Amnesty International

Amnesty International (AI) is a global movement on human rights issues and founded in 1961 in London. According to Amnesty International (AI), the death penalty is wrong and it’s a denial of human rights as already stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article (3) that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person” (AI 2015;  OHCHR 2015).

Since 1977, AI has been campaigning “End the Death Penalty” (EDP) when only 16 countries has abolished the capital punishment and now the number has increased to 140 countries or almost two-thirds of countries in the world. In Indonesia, AI has been working to campaign EDP since 1980s (AI 2015). Moreover, Indonesia is among the countries that are still practicing the death penalty for serious crimes such as: seriously aggravated murder, drug trafficking offences and terrorism (WCADP 2013).

To achieve their goal, AI does not have specific time frame. It stated by Peter Benenson, AI founder that: “Only when the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done” (AI 2015).

Stakeholders and interest groups involved

Stakeholders are very important to AI because they are accountable to their stakeholders (AI 2010). In general, AI’s stakeholders include: peoples and ecosystem who need the protection, member and supporters, staff and volunteers, organisation and individual that contribute to AI, partner organisation both governmental and non-governmental, regulatory bodies, media, and general public (AI 2010).
It is interesting to note that governments (abolitionist countries) also become part of AI’s stakeholders. Often, several abolitionist governments – with the lobby of AI - also take part to push Indonesian government to abolish the death penalty. For instance Australia and the UK (BBC: 2015; AI 2015: 2).
Even though AI has international networks to pursue their goal, unfortunately, in Indonesia, AI does not have detailed maps which clearly state their stakeholders. In addition, AI mostly work in coordination with Koalisi Anti Hukuman Mati (HATI Coalition)which consists of several human rights NGOs – as they do not have branch office or licence to operate in Indonesia.

Evidence-based policy

One of the strengths of AI campaign is the use of evidence-based policy (Nutley, Walter and Davies 2002: 5) in their advocacy, lobby and campaign. AI believes that policy change on human rights starts with the facts and research is the first step must be taken before advocacy, lobbying, campaign and action (AI 2015).  Nutley, Davis and Walter (2002: 2) state that there are many forms of evidence such as: statistics, stakeholder consultation, policy evaluation, published research, economic and statistical modelling, expert knowledge and even the internet.

In campaigning EDP in Indonesia, AI used a number of evidence such as statistics which show that death penalty is disappearing around the world, facts that death penalty does not deter criminals, as well as experts’ views that support the EDP (AI 2012). In 2015, AI Australia organised #KeepHopeAlive campaign and used online and paper petition addressed to Indonesian President to support EDP and ask clemency for Duo-Bali Nine, Sukumaran and Chan (AI Australia 2015; SkyNews 2015).

The Kingdon’s policy windows

Using Kingdon’s Policy Windows on the three important streams (problems, policies and politics) to bring issues onto government agenda (Howlett, Ramesh and Perl 2009: 103-104), we can identify how the issue of death penalty played in these streams. In the problem stream, the issue of death penalty becomes problem for Indonesian Government when their citizens (360 Indonesian migrant workers) faced death penalty in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia (SkyNews 2015).  

In the policy stream, Indonesia Constitutional Law acknowledges that right to life is a “non-derogable rights” therefore cannot be limited in any circumstances (INHRC 2013: 8). Moreover, AI and their counterparts in Indonesia also have examined the problems and proposed solutions as policy options on how to end the death penalty with several stages such as:  halt the executions, clemency, take death penalty off for all crimes and commuted to prison sentences (AI 2014).

While in the political stream, several factors need to be considered such as: national mood, pressure from interest groups and administrative or legislative turnover (Howlett, Ramesh and Perl 2009: 103). International pressure from Australia, Brazil, and the Netherlands to Indonesia (Lowy Institute 2015) and the new elected government that perceived as a “New Hope” (Times 2014) are among the important factors to the agenda of EDP in Indonesia.

Policy Windows: Open and Close

Despite several open windows above, several factors also influenced the close of policy windows which caused by dynamic interaction in the three streams (Howlett, Ramesh and Perl 2009: 103) and also the structured interaction of policy; that policy is also about competing agenda of other players (Colebatch 2009: 26).

First, the war against massive and chronic corruption as well as drug trafficking in Indonesia demands death penalty for the punishment. Second, in the case of AI’s campaign and advocacy to Indonesian president in early 2015 in order to give clemency for duo Bali-nine, polling showed that majority (62%) of Australian support the death penalty for drug traffickers in Indonesia (Roy Morgan 2015). These different opinions give bad influence on the importance of perception of problem as public issue (Howlett, Ramesh and Perl 2009: 103). Third, the new government influenced by the outsider groups to retain the policy on death penalty for serious crimes. This is in line with the aims of policy work: that policy process is concerned with stability and change (Colebatch 2008: 134) and this also explains the double standard of Indonesian government in responding to death penalty (News 2013).

Possible ways forward to advance the campaign

Myers (2005: 2) gives important framework on stakeholder power analysis in identifying key actors need to be approached and influenced. To improve the impact on their campaign, AI (directly or through their networks) also needs to approach the outsider groups as they mostly have high power and high potential (Myers 2005: 11) to influence policy and provide them strong facts/evidence supporting the idea of EDP. In addition, creating conditions for inclusive and quality multi-stakeholders dialogue (Myers 2005: 5) is also important to be conducted as the debate on death penalty often conducted in an exclusive and participated by very limited actors.

AI also needs to understand the real policy window from the perspective of Indonesian government and people because policy is also about social construction by recognising and making the problem as a collective concern of the society (Colebatch 2009: 24). The use of duo-Bali nine issues for the policy window did not work as it was not the problem of Indonesian government but the problem of Australian Government because at the same time, the problem from the perspective of Indonesian Government is a drug crisis that created 4.5 million drug addicts and kills 50 people per day (Fealy 2015).

The best policy window from the perspective of Indonesian Government is the fact that a number of Indonesian migrant workers faced death penalty overseas and Indonesia needs international support to stop the execution (Earle 2015). This is in line with the argument given by Howlett and Ramesh (2003: 120-121) that recognising the problem for policy makers is important determinants in setting up the agenda.

Written by: Agung Wasono (September 2015)


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