The lawyer who represented Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran before the Australians were executed is optimistic there will eventually be a change in Indonesia’s death penalty laws.
While reports yesterday that Indonesia had declared a formal moratorium to end the death penalty have been rejected, executions are on hold until further notice.
Co-ordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs Luhut Panjaitan said there are no plans for further executions “until our economy gets better”. But asked if that meant there was a moratorium, Mr Luhut said “(it’s) different”.
Todung Mulya Lubis, the Indonesian lawyer for Chan and Sukumaran, who were executed by firing squad seven months ago, remains optimistic of a change.
‘’It is not a clear-cut announcement but it is a good sign. It was misinterpreted; there is no such policy,” Todung Mulya Lubis said. “Hopefully it will lead to abolition of the death penalty.’’
Fourteen people have been executed by firing squad this year amid a global backlash against the practice.
Robert Khuana, the lawyer acting for Bali Nine drugs courier Michael Czugaj, said the Attorney-General’s office had issued a budget statement allocating enough funds for 14 people to be executed in 2016.
‘’The death penalty is not illegal in Indonesia, they just postpone it. If you want permanent moratorium it means you have to change the regulations. ‘’
Meantime, appeals to reduce sentences for the six Bali Nine heroin mules serving life sentences would be based on recommendations of rehabilitation and socialisation from prison wardens and justice and human rights officials.
‘’Of course, we hope to reduce the sentences to 20 years, maybe,’’ Mr Khuana said. ‘’But there are many considerations before we can lodge the PK (judicial review).’’
Australian artist Matt Sleeth, who had tutored Sukumaran in art with Ben Quilty inside Kerobokan jail in Bali, saw the announcement as a step in the right direction despite the downgrading.
Any efforts towards getting the death penalty removed were to be fostered, he said.
“I imagine for the families there’s no consolation at all. But you want to encourage Indonesia as much as possible. They are backtracking pretty quickly.
‘’It’s bittersweet news but all moves towards stopping the death penalty are to be encouraged. I’m sure Indonesia doesn’t want to be the sort of country that ties people to a post in the middle of the night and shoots them. ‘’
Australian pastor Jeff Hammond who counselled Chan said ‘’sadly it doesn’t bring back Andrew and Myuran or the other six executed alongside them. Their families still grieve the loss of their loved ones. This announcement will add to their grief as they ask, ‘Why now? Why not before they were executed? ‘’
Former inmate turned priest Matius Arif Mirdjaja, who was baptised by Chan in prison, vowed to fight on to eradicate the death penalty.
‘’Andrew’s message is to fight injustice. We must change the Indonesian legal system.’’
Source: The Australian, Deborah Cassrels, November 20, 2015