UN chief urges Indonesia to spare drug convicts from execution

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday to spare from impending execution a group of 10 death-row drug convicts, most of them foreigners.

"The Secretary-General appeals to the government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution, as announced, of 10 prisoners on death row for alleged drug-related crimes," a spokesman for Ban said.

Earlier on Saturday, Indonesia said it had officially notified eight foreign nationals convicted of drug crimes - from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines - that they will be executed.

A Frenchman was granted a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure on Jakarta.

An Indonesian is the 10th being sent to the gallows.

"Under international law, if the death penalty is to be used at all, it should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, namely those involving intentional killing, and only with appropriate safeguards," Ban's spokesman said.

"Drug-related offences generally are not considered to fall under the category of 'most serious crimes.'"

He appealed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to consider banning capital punishment.

"Recalling that the United Nations opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, the Secretary General urges President Joko Widodo to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition."

The foreign drug convicts have all lost appeals for clemency from Widodo, who argues that Indonesia is fighting a drugs emergency.

They are expected to be put to death by firing squad in a matter of days.