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Letter to President of Indonesia regarding proposed halt in negotiations to establish a prisoner exchange treaty

Attention: His Excellency Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President RI, Istana Merdeka,
Jakarta 10110, INDONESIA
Fax: 00 62 21 345 2685 / 00 62 21 526 8726

cc: MP Djoko Susilo
Tel: (62) 21 798 8944
Email: susilo_djoko@hotmail.com

    Dear President

    I write to you with great concern regarding the decision that Nationalist MP Djoko Susilo has called for a halt in negotiations to establish a prisoner exchange between Indonesia and Australia because of the Australian Immigration Departments decision to grant temporary protection visas to 42 Papuans this week. Mr Djoko Susilo was quoted as stating, "We are trying not to hurt the Australian people, but this is the lowest level between Indonesia and Australia and we want more action taken by our government against yours, the prisoners will stay in Indonesia - they won't do their prison time in Australia now." He has also called for called for punitive sanctions against Australia and a cut in military ties.

    Your Excellency in 2005 the Australia - Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development (AIPRD) was established to provide 1 billion dollars over the next five years for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Aceh, North Sumatra and other parts of Indonesia. Australia has worked hard to help Indonesia reform its economy, build strong institutions, improve governance and tackle corruption. Australian companies are already active in Indonesia and Australia is an important investor to you.

    In 2004 The Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) was established as a bilateral initiative of Australia and Indonesia to combat terrorism after the the October 2002 Bali bombings, the August 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing and the September 2004 bombing targeting the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Australia has also indicated the need to increase the cooperation between the two countries in combating other forms of transnational crime and non-traditional security threats, especially in areas such as people smuggling, narcotics, outbreaks of disease and money laundering. Australia is also working hard towards a close partnership between the police forces, immigration and customs officials and security and intelligence agencies in Indonesia. They are also trying to strengthen intelligence and practical cooperation in the areas of aviation and maritime security, and the conclusion of a new aviation security arrangement between both countries.

    Since 1992 there have been increasing exchanges between our ministers and officials and Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum meetings have been taking place regularly. Australia remains the number one destination for Indonesians wishing to study overseas and Australia will be offering 600 AIPRD post-graduate scholarships, thereby more than doubling the number of scholarships it currently funds for Indonesians. Australia has been a good neighbor to Indonesia and only recently was exemplary in it's efforts after your devastating earth quake and tsunami.

    Your Excellency I beg of you to intervene and ensure that all government responses to this latest problem do not escalate into obstructing and enabling the halt to any negotiations of the prisoner transfer agreement. Any delay or decision to shelve the agreement would be detrimental to these Australian prisoners and their families. Participation in international prisoner transfers is generally justified on humanitarian, rehabilitative and financial basis enabling persons to be returned to their country of origin to serve their sentence. It not only assists the reintegration into the community of prisoners participating in the transfer scheme, but it also has positive benefits for the families of those prisoners. Their re-absorption into the community is likely to be much more difficult if they have served their sentences in a foreign country without the opportunity to obtain skills that may assist them to reintegrate into the community and without contact without contact with their families.

    I thank you for your valuable time and look forward to a positive response.

    Yours Sincerely

    Kath Talmage

    Member of Foreign Prisoner Support Service ( FPSS )
    Member of Amnesty International Urgent Action Team
    Member of Amnesty International NZ


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