Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Death Penalty; Consideration
I wish to speak about document 1, tabled today, which is a letter from the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to a resolution of the Senate of 10 February, concerning Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan.
I particularly want to highlight the nature of that resolution because the substance of it remains relevant today as much as it did when it passed in this place—and it passed with the agreement and support of both the Australian Greens and the coalition. That resolution called on Indonesia to give consideration to the circumstances of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran—their rehabilitation in prison, their suffering and that of their families—and commute their sentences to an appropriate term of imprisonment.
Today I still stand by the content of that resolution, despite acknowledging the letter that has been tabled the letter from the ambassador. Today particularly is of grave concern. The news that the two prisoners, Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, were going to be transferred to the island where they would be executed, is certainly not a good sign. I know that many Australians are feeling concerned and sad today. It is not a good sign that these men have been transferred. I think it is particularly concerning as well because there are two legal challenges currently underway.
Having said that, I think we need to hold out our hope. As the shadow minister for foreign affairs said: where there is life, there is hope. I think we need to hold onto that. We also need to hold onto the fact that these legal challenges are in place and should be allowed to run their course. I think we need to also continue to say to the Indonesian government that they weaken their case to the governments of other nations when they are pleading for clemency for their own people—with almost 230 of their own citizens on death row around the world.
There is also the point that has been made by both sides of this chamber, and that is the fact that these two young Australian men have clearly been rehabilitated. They are showing an example to the power of the Indonesian corrective system in the fact that they have been rehabilitated as prisoners. Obviously, not only have they rehabilitated themselves but they are also continuing to contribute to the rehabilitation of others. That, I think, needs to seriously be considered by the president. It is to the president and to all of the Indonesian government that we ask for clemency.
As a nation, we have had a strong relationship with Indonesia for many, many years. Now we continue, of course, to look at that strength of our friendship with Indonesia to appeal to the President of Indonesia, to the Attorney-General and to others in the government or in the legal system in Indonesia. We say to them to look at the rehabilitation of these men. The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. We certainly stand very firm with the coalition in the efforts that have been made. I know some of those efforts have been joint efforts between the Labor Party, the coalition and the Greens. We certainly hold onto hope that the Indonesian government forgives these men, finds clemency for them and does not execute them, so that their lives are saved. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Question agreed to.