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Chris Hayes goes into bat for Bali Nine pair

Bali Nine

Call: MP Chris Hayes wants the universal abolition of the death penalty.

MP Chris Hayes, who wants universal abolition of the death penalty, has made a formal plea for two members of the Bali Nine.

The federal member for Fowler has written a letter to the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Nadjib Riphat Kesoema, in which he asks the Indonesian Government to reconsider its position regarding Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

They have been imprisoned for almost 10 years since they were arrested in Denpasar in April 2005.

“I appreciate and respect that it is within the prerogative of a sovereign state to determine its own punishment regime,’’ says Mr Hayes in his letter to the ambassador.

“However, during the period of their imprisonment both Chan and Sukumaran have had the opportunity to show genuine remorse.

“Andrew Chan has developed as a responsible member of the prison community and has become a devout Christian.

“Myuran Sukumaran has become an accomplished artist. His paintings are of such a quality that I understand plans are being made to exhibit his work by members of the international arts community.

“The achievement of both men demonstrates the constructive nature of the innovative rehabilitation program at Kerobokan Prison.

“I humbly seek consideration of the genuine steps taken by these men to reform, and their opportunity to repay society if their lives are spared.

“It would be appreciated if my views on capital punishment could be placed before the appropriate people in the Indonesian government for urgent consideration in respect to both Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and others on death row in Indonesia,’’ Mr Hayes says in the letter.

“In making my representations to you, I do not wish to harm or impair Australia’s strong relationship with Indonesia, or act other than entirely respectfully of Indonesia’s sovereignty and independence.

“However I have a long standing conviction that the human rights of all people who face capital punishment, in particular, their right to life, is at stake. This applies equally to all persons facing the death penalty, including of course convicted Indonesian citizens facing the death penalty in foreign countries.

“In our region many of our near neighbours have abolished the death penalty – Cambodia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Australia and its states and territory have all abolished the death penalty since 1984.

“Consistent with Australia’s position on capital punishment, Australia has made representations on behalf of its citizens who face the death penalty in other countries.

“I also applaud the significant diplomatic efforts made by Indonesia on behalf of its citizens overseas where the death penalty has been imposed, especially in Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East and China. I know that Indonesian Foreign Ministers and diplomats have worked tirelessly and very professionally in recent years to save the lives of convicted Indonesian citizens facing the death penalty in foreign countries.

“I also applaud the great restraint by Indonesia in the use of the death penalty and decisions that have extended clemency, including to foreign nationals.

“According to the Jakarta Post on 21 December, 2014, the former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono helped at least 110 Indonesian citizens who had been sentenced to death in China, Iran, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, thanks in part to Indonesia’s informal moratorium on executions between 2008 and 2012. The former Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has admitted Indonesians sentenced to death overseas had benefited from this sensible practice.

“In light of trends in our region, I believe it would be very positively received if Indonesia also reviewed its use of the death penalty, especially in respect of convicted citizens from neighbouring countries which have already abolished capital punishment.

“In light of my long standing advocacy for universal abolition of the death penalty, I have made many speeches in the Australian Parliament concerning Scott Rush and others of the Bali Nine who were sentenced to death given their involvement in the illicit drug activity in Indonesia in April 2005.

“I visited Kerobokan Prison in Bali in April 2011, principally to meet with Scott Rush, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. There is no doubt their crimes of drug trafficking are particularly heinous given the impact of drugs on our society.

“I am conscious that some countries make representation when their own citizens are subject to capital punishment but fall silent when it involves people of other nations.

“My opposition to capital punishment and advocacy for its abolition is universal.

“Following the conviction of the Bali bombers, I was one of few voices that spoke in the Australian Parliament against the application of the death penalty. I did this in spite of the outrageous attack, which claimed the lives of 202 people from 22 countries, the majority of the victims being Indonesian but also 88 of whom were Australian citizens.’’

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