Indonesia death penalty
Indonesia death penaltyReuters

Concerned diplomats and human rights activists around the world are continuing to ask Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to exercise restraint and grant pardon to a foreign national from Pakistan and an Indonesian woman, who are reportedly due to be executed soon.

The fate of Pakistani national Zulfiqar Ali and Indonesian woman MU or Merry Utami, who were both handed death sentences for drug trafficking charges, hangs in the balance while diplomats and activists scurry to get them rescued.

The two are among the 16 people, including citizens of Nigeria and Zimbabwe, who officials said would be executed this year at the notorious Nusa Kambangan prison island, according to report by Reuters.

Although no formal date has been announced and executions would only be conducted after Attorney General and President Joko gives the final decision, anonymous official sources privy to the developments said that 13 people would be executed by firing squad shortly after midnight on Friday.

Suhendro Putro, local undertaker who prepared coffins for those executed last year, also said that he was given directions to be "ready" to bathe the bodies of more death row prisoners.

Indonesia instituted the death penalty because it considers it a necessary deterrent to fight the
ongoing drug epidemic. According to Amnesty International, 40% of the 165 people on death row in Indonesia are convicted of drug-related crimes.

Last year's execution of 14 people, including a Brazilian national named Rodrigo Gularte, who was suffering from a severe mental disability sparked outrage against Indonesia. A damning report by Amnesty International titled Flawed Justice claimed that the death row prisoners, including foreign nationals in Indonesia, are routinely denied access to lawyers and interpreters and are coerced into "confessions" through severe beatings and torture.

The same report described how 52-year-old Zulfiqar Ali was beaten violently by the Indonesian police, later requiring kidney and stomach surgery, until he made a self incriminating confession. Ali, the father of six who is due to be executed on Friday and has been languishing in jail for the past 12 years, was picked up from his home without warrant in connection and is accused of trafficking 300 grams of heroine

Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a human rights law firm which has been pursuing Ali's case, added that he was denied a fair, transparent and legal process and was even asked to pay a bribe of 400 million Indonesian rupiah in exchange of a reduced sentence from capital punishment to 10-15 years.

Another rights group based out of Jakarta called Komnas Perempuan, who has been pursuing Merry Utami's case, that she is innocent.

Having been transported and placed in an isolation cell, Merri, the mother of two is reportedly the only female inmate being held alongside more than 1,000 people in the Nusa Kambangan prison island.

Komnas Perempuan claims that Merri was set up by her boyfriend "Jerry" after he used her as a drug mule to procure a package from Nepal containing 1.1 kilogram of heroin. She was caught at the Jakarta airport on Oct. 31, 2001.