Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Questions without Notice
Yes, Senator Mason, I can. The government is deeply concerned at reports that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are being transferred by Indonesian authorities in preparation for their execution. Unfortunately, it does look as if the Indonesian position is hardening, which is obviously distressing news.
The Australian government maintains and has long maintained, on both sides of politics, strong, principled opposition to the death penalty. It is, as well, the government's very strong view that it is unacceptable for any steps to be taken to prepare for executions while any legal avenues remain open, as they do. Lawyers for the two men have stated that they are lodging a further appeal in the state administrative court.
The government asks President Widodo to show mercy and forgiveness to these two men. It is clear that Andrew and Myuran are reformed men who are making a positive difference to the lives of their fellow prisoners and, in doing so, are making a real contribution to Indonesia. We make this plea to President Widodo as a forgiving man to see the remarkable difference these two young Australians have made to many Indonesians in prison.
Mr President, mercy knows no borders and it has just as big a place in Indonesian concepts of justice as it does here in Australia. In seeking mercy for these two young men, Australia is only doing what Indonesia itself does for its citizens on death row overseas. For as long as there is still hope, the government will do everything we possibly can to persuade Indonesia to change course and agree to a permanent stay of execution.
Senator Mason, I can. There have been many. Since the advice of the rejection of clemency applications in January, the Governor-General has written to President Widodo. The Prime Minister has written on five occasions to President Widodo, on the third of those occasions jointly with the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Greens and the fifth time on 17 February. The Prime Minister has also spoken to President Widodo most recently on 25 February. The Foreign Minister has written three times to Foreign Minister Marsudi, the second time jointly with the shadow minister for foreign affairs and the leader of the Greens. She has also spoken to the foreign minister on three occasions, as recently as yesterday. The Foreign Minister has also written to State Secretary Pratikno, and she has spoken to Vice President Kalla on 19 February.
Yes, Senator Mason. I personally pleaded the men's case twice in letters to my counterpart, the Attorney-General, and as well in separate letters to the coordinating Minister of Law and Human Rights. The Minister for Justice has also taken up the plea with the Minister for Law and Human Rights. At my and the Prime Minister's request, the secretary of my department, Mr Chris Moraitis, who is of course a very experienced diplomat, as well as the Director General of Security Duncan Lewis have, in recent weeks, travelled to Indonesia to meet with senior officials and senior political figures to plead for the lives of Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran. The AFP Commissioner has written to the head of the Indonesian National Police. As the Prime Minister said this morning, the Australian government will never rest in our determination to let Indonesia know that we oppose the death penalty. We believe that the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran should be spared.