JAKARTA – As Australian Nationals Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are sitting in solitary confinement in Indonesia awaiting their executions, the Countries diplomats have suggested a moratorium on the death penalty while speaking at a global human rights summit.
The statements stand in stark contrast to Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s stance on the execution of drug smugglers, including Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the two Bali Nine ringleaders.
Prominent Australian barrister Robert Richter told The New Daily the executions should not go ahead if Indonesian officials were about to call a halt to the death penalty.
“It would be an appalling miscarriage if such was being considered and yet the executions proceeded,” Mr Richter said.
“I suppose I wonder where and from whom has this information (been communicated to the diplomats).”
Australian politicians have again urged Indonesia to reconsider the decision.
On Wednesday, Indonesian diplomats told a UN Human Rights Council summit in Geneva that a moratorium on the death penalty could be reintroduced – just days before the country prepares to execute a further 11 drug criminals, including Chan and Sukumaran.
The UN council hosted a high-level panel to discuss the death penalty, calling for a global ban on capital punishment.
A transcript from the summit said most countries were concerned that the death penalty did not lower crime rates, and warned that the practice of killing prisoners too often targeted the minions, rather than the linchpins, of the illegal drugs trade.
Mr Richter – who publicly opposes the death penalty and is active in drug law reforms – said it would be unlikely that the discussions held in the UN Human Rights Council summit would have any sway on the fate of Chan and Sukumaran.
UN assistant secretary-general Ivan Simonovic said capital punishment was “inhuman and outdated” and there was no evidence that executions stop crimes.
Mr Simonovic’s comments, at the summit, oppose those of Mr Widodo, who has insisted the death penalty is needed to tackle a “drugs emergency” in Indonesia.
Australian diplomats were also at the Geneva meeting and warned of extensive international research that disproved the death penalty had a deterrent effect on crime.
Senior officials from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will seek to speak to the Indonesian ambassador on Friday.
The families of Chan and Sukumaran are making their way to the prison island where the men are now detained.
Up to 11 drug offenders, including the pair, are scheduled to be simultaneously executed by firing squad on Nusa Kambanang, but Indonesian officials remain cagey about the time and date of the execution.
A candlelight vigil was held in Canberra as Australian officials continued to make 11th-hour pleas for the men’s lives. The Australian foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, confirmed she had floated the idea of a prisoner swap in “a very tense phone call” with her Indonesian counterpart.
Bishop would not elaborate on the plan she discussed with Retno Marsudi, saying only: “We are seeking opportunities to explore every option that might be available to us, every avenue that might be available to save the lives of these two men.”
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, told the Australian parliament showing clemency would represent Indonesia’s “best values”, as well as its best interests.
“How can it be in Indonesia’s interest to kill these two men who are helping Indonesia in the fight against drug crime?” he said, referring to the rehabilitation of the pair during their 10 years on death row.
Widodo told al-Jazeera that he had considered both men’s cases but had to honour the court’s decision to execute them and up to nine others, including Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, whom aid groups say suffers from schizophrenia.
“I think the decision was already taken by the court. We can’t discriminate between people from different countries,” Widodo said. “One more time, I am looking at our national interest.”