ALICIA LOXLEY: The Federal Government is being urged to make a last-ditch effort to convince the Indonesian Government to spare the lives of Bali Nine ring leaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan. However the outlook is bleak with the Indonesians executing six drug traffickers over the weekend. We are joined by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for more.
Minister thanks so much for your time this morning.
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning.
ALICIA LOXLEY: There are reports that Myuran Sukumaran has told friend he believes he will be executed by the end of the month. Have you exhausted all diplomatic avenues to save his life and that of Andrew Chan?
JULIE BISHOP: We are continuing to make representations at the very highest level. The Prime Minister has written again to the Indonesian President. I'm in contact with my counterpart, the Foreign Minister. Australians find the death penalty abhorrent and the Australian Government opposes the death penalty in all instances. This has been a long-standing position of governments over the years and we oppose a situation where any Australian nationals face the death penalty or are executed by another State. So we will continue to make representations at the very highest level.
The fact that both Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan have made significant efforts at rehabilitation should be a factor that is taken into account. However the Indonesian Government has so far rebuffed our pleas on the basis that they say it is Indonesian law, the death penalty is part of a number of drug-related offences and that they intend to proceed. But we will continue to pursue avenues to ensure that we can get them to change their mind.
ALICIA LOXLEY: The pair's lawyer says that he still has some hope. Do you share his optimism based on the information you have and what you are hearing from your counterparts?
JULIE BISHOP: At this point the Foreign Minister has rejected my pleas on their behalf but we will continue to do all we can. I met with the families over the weekend and I assured them that we would continue to make representations. Over many years there have been about 50-55 personal one-on-one meetings between Australian leaders and Indonesian leaders, Prime Minister Abbott and I have continued to raise the cases every time we meet with the senior leadership of the Indonesian Government.
My personal view is that an execution of drug traffickers will not stop the problems of drugs in and out of Indonesia. There is a much broader approach that needs to be taken. However, the Indonesian Government seems to be intent on pursuing the death penalty for drug traffickers.
ALICIA LOXLEY: Brazil and the Netherlands have now recalled their Ambassadors to Indonesia. Should we be doing the same?
JULIE BISHOP: We are continuing to make representations and we will continue to do that until we can persuade Indonesia to grant clemency to Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan so we are going to exhaust all avenues. I understand their lawyers are also pursuing another avenue, so there are other things we can continue to do and we will.
ALICIA LOXLEY: Do you think there will be a backlash from the Australian public if they do execute the pair?
JULIE BISHOP: I think that people will be shocked. Overnight six nationals, some from other countries, were executed by the Indonesian Government. They are seeking to send a very strong message. Indeed it was part of the election platform of the incoming Government that they would be tough on drug traffickers. Indonesia is an independent sovereign nation. Its laws have the death penalty attracted to certain drug-related offences and it is a very severe warning to anyone travelling in or out of Indonesia that the death penalty can apply to drug trafficking.
ALICIA LOXLEY: Alright another tough start to the year it seems already for your Government.
Julie Bishop, we appreciate your time, thank you.
JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.
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