Asia

Indonesia announces temporary halt to executions

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister, gestures as he walks with officials to a news conference in Jakarta Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Indonesia's chief security minister, Luhut Panjaitan, announced a temporary halt to executions

Indonesia will not be executing death row prisoners in the near future, the country's top security minister said.

Luhut Binsar Panjaitan told a news conference the government's priority was to address the economic slowdown.

His comments came during bilateral meetings aimed at boosting trade with the Australian government.

Relations between the countries worsened after Indonesia executed a number of foreigners, including two Australian drug traffickers in April.

"We haven't thought about executing a death penalty with the economic conditions like this," Mr Panjaitan told reporters in Jakarta.

He did not elaborate on when executions would next take place - correspondents say none are scheduled - or explain their connection with the economy.

Indonesia's economic growth dropped below 5% for two consecutive quarters in 2015.

The country has some of the toughest drug laws in the world - meaning it has a strained relationship with many countries whose citizens have ended up in its prisons.

This year it has executed 14 people by firing squad, including citizens from Brazil, the Netherlands and Nigeria, as well as Australia.

Dozens more are on death row, including British woman Lindsay Sandiford. Indonesia observed a four-year moratorium on executions before resuming them in 2013.

Australia recalled its ambassador from Indonesia after its citizens were put to death, with then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott condemning the executions as "cruel and unnecessary".

But the countries are keen to mend fences, and last week new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held talks in Indonesia in a visit designed to boost trade.

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