Supporter appeals to Indonesian President on behalf of Bali Nine
10/10/2005 Attention: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Istana Merdeka Jakarta 10110 Indonesia

Your excellency

I write to you as an Australian citizen residing in New Zealand and also as a concerned member of Amnesty International Urgent Action Group – which is an impartial organisation working on behalf of prisoners of conscience, against the death penalty, torture, political killings and disappearances.

Today being the 10th of October 2005, an important day in this year marking the World Day Against The Death Penalty, and an appropriate time to raise your awareness of the plight of my fellow Australian citizens Matthew Norman, 18, Renae Lawrence, 27, Myuran Sukumaran, 24, Andrew Chan, 21, Scott Rush, 19, Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, 27, Martin Stephens, 29, Michael Czugaj, 19 and Si Yi Chen, 20, whom all could be facing the death penalty if convicted for drug smuggling. Also the many other foreign prisoners and Nationals incarcerated in the jails in Indonesia facing the death penalty.

On 5 August 2004, Indonesia carried out its first execution in more than three years. Ayodhya Prasad Chaubey, an Indian national convicted of drug-trafficking in 1994, was executed by firing squad. Two Thai Nationals, Saelow Prasert (m) and Namsong Sirilak (f), who had been sentenced to death in the same case, were executed on 1 October 2004.

Eight other people, all of whom have been sentenced for drug-related offences, are at imminent risk of execution after their appeals for Presidential clemency were rejected in June and July 2004. A total approximately of at least 54 people are currently believed to be under sentence of death in Indonesia, 30 of them for drug-related offences.

I am concerned that these recent developments reflect an increasing willingness by the authorities to use the death penalty to address crime, in particular drug-trafficking, and I am alarmed at official statements that further executions will be carried out in the near future. This would constitute a setback for human rights in Indonesia, which has only rarely imposed this cruel and inhuman form of punishment.

The process of legal reform in Indonesia is ongoing. And I congratulate Indonesia for ratifying a number of international treaties on human rights and it's commitment to ratifying others in the near future. Within this process of reform Indonesia must ensure that the law is brought in line with international standards relating to capital punishment that establish the greatest possible protection for individuals facing the death penalty.

At least 30 people are currently believed to be under sentence of death after having been convicted of drug-related offences. Among them are 20 foreign nationals. Six of those sentenced to death for drug-related offences are women. To date three men and one woman have been executed for drug-trafficking. They are Ayodhya Prasad Chaubey, Namsong Sirilak and Saelow Prasert who were executed in 2004 and Chan Ting Chong (Steven Chong) who was executed in 1995. All four had been sentenced under the 1976 Narcotics Law (Law no. 9/1976) which was in place before new legislation was introduced in 1997.

The trade in and use of illicit drugs is a world-wide problem, and I recognizes that the increased calls for the death penalty reflects a genuine need to protect the community from this threat. However, no convincing evidence has been produced that the death penalty deters would be drug-traffickers and suppliers more effectively than other punishments.

Although various UN bodies have made statements regarding the trade in illicit drugs, the UN has never endorsed the use of the death penalty to suppress drug-trafficking and abuse. Indeed, the reverse is true. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has urged that "the death penalty should be eliminated for crimes such as economic crimes and drug-related offences"

I Understand that Indonesia has a strong stance on combating drug crimes and that the need for effective measures to combat crime, including drug-related and economic crimes needs to be seen as staunch.. However, the death penalty is qualitatively different from other forms of punishment, such as imprisonment, in that it is irrevocable. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the fundamental right to life. International human rights standards stipulate that the death penalty should only be imposed for the most serious of crimes, and favour moving towards complete abolition.

Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that, " In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes". The UN Human Rights Committee established to oversee the implementation of the ICCPR, provides the most authoritative interpretation of the ICCPR. It has stated that " The expression 'most serious crime' must be read restrictively to mean that the death penalty should be a quite exceptional measure".

Your Excellency I beg of you to take immediate steps towards the abolition of the death penalty, in accordance with UN Commission on Human Rights resolutions, by declaring a moratorium on all executions; and commute all pending death sentences to terms of imprisonment. Also to amend all relevant articles of Indonesia's Criminal Code (Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana, KUHP) so that they do not provide for the death penalty, and to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in line with Indonesia's commitments under its National Plan of Action on Human Rights. I beg of you to take concrete steps to ensure that all prosecutions, in particular those for crimes carrying the death penalty, meet the highest international standards for fair trial. This would include the right to adequate legal representation at every stage of proceedings, adequate access to interpretation and freedom from torture or ill-treatment.

I thank you for your valuable time and I would be grateful if you could confirm that your government does indeed oppose such practices

I look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Talmage
Member of Amnesty International

What are we doing to our children?
I never thought id see the day when the Australian Federal Police let a group of young kids break the law without jumping in.

Has it got to the point where a conviction supercedes everything?

Here in Australia we do not have the death penalty. We consider it a barbaric and unfair punishment, but yet when a young kid gets arrested in Thailand or Indonesia I still hear echo's of "they knew what the penalties were, they are drug traffickers, they deserve to die"

Infact they are Australians!, and in Australia we do not think the death penalty is fair, and these young kids are not the mr bigs of crime, they are the bottom of the food chain. The drug mule takes all the risks for the least of the reward. The money spent on the Bali 9 kids to fly them over to Bali, pay for their holidays, spending money etc, was a drop in the bucket compared to the retail value of their cargo on the streets of Australia.

The drug trade is a supply and demand market, the amount of heroin required to supply every addict in Australia for a week is massive! Far more than any one drug mule could bring in!

I have had reports from at least 3 high ranking ex members of the federal police who have all said the same thing; "The AFP had a policy of letting Australians 'run' back to Australia with the drugs before being arrested. They cant go anywhere once they are on the plane, so it is easy to pick them up at the other end in Sydney or Darwin. In my whole career I have never seen the AFP condemn someone to the death penalty

So what went wrong? Who has the answers?

Lets hope that the usual 'buck passing' does not prevail and someone is brave enough to tell the parents of the Bali 9 kids why the AFP let them run to their deaths! - It is not too late for the Australian government to intervene, why not bring Schapelle home while they are at it!

I'm sure the Australian public would love em for it too!! Come on Mr Downer, imagine the publicity shots of your leaving the prison in Bali with Schapelle!

Susan Grey
Freelance Reporter
Washington / Perth / Japan

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