LEGAL BODY CONVERGES TO CONDEMN BALI NINE EXECUTIONS

LEGAL BODY CONVERGES TO CONDEMN BALI NINE EXECUTIONS

THE reason for a new lawyers' network that has been established in response to the Bali Nine executions this week is two-fold the punishment will not deter the crime and Australians need better education on cross-cultural matters.

Asia Pacific Lawyers Network (APLN) believes Indonesia's "renewed vigorous use of the death penalty" is ineffective as a drug smuggling deterrence.

The organisation will be working with lawyers and academics throughout Asia Pacific promoting legal education, cross-jurisdictional understanding and greater scrutiny of countries' justice systems.

APLN has been in the works for six months, but for case sensitivity, they were waiting to see how things played out. Lawyers, journalists and academics with experience in Australia, Fiji, Micronesia, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Japan and Papua New Guinea are currently involved with the network. 

Mandy Wyer, APLN public affairs manager and director, says the network hopes to strengthen the dialogue surrounding the death penalty.

Wyer previously worked as public affairs manager for the Australian Lawyers Alliance between 2008 and November 2013.

She says APLN stands firm on there being "a void of knowledge" with matters like the Bali Nine which cross borders.

This view is supported by Julian McMahon, the lawyer for Bali Nine's Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, who Wyer first met in 2008. 

"Julian and I talked at length about the hanging in Singapore of Australian Van Tuong Nguyen and the death penalty back in 2008, as he was also a lawyer involved in that case and was personally and deeply affected by the loss of his client," says Wyer.

"As a result, Julian was incredibly sensitive to making criticisms surrounding those countries using the death penalty and is keenly aware of how such comments may be misconstrued or amplified through discussion in the media."

Wyer says every press release she developed with McMahon on the Bali Nine matter was "laboured over painstakingly" to ensure they weren't inflaming the situation.

She believes Prime Minister Tony Abbott "didn't really have a handle on when lobbying the Indonesian Government not to execute Sukumaran and Chan" and the situation was handled poorly "largely because of lack of knowledge about the culture and sensitivity to the country itself".

To ensure more sensitive handling of cases like this in the future, APLN is campaigning for the strengthening of connections between lawyers, politicians, academics and journalists throughout the Asia Pacific.

"It is hoped that improved ongoing dialogue, behind the scenes, on justice issues will facilitate understanding and help to rebuild greater harmony and trade ties in the Asia Pacific, which has been rocked by the latest round of executions," Wyer says.

"It is hard to fathom how Australia and its closest neighbour, Indonesia, will mend the deep ideological and emotional rift that has resulted from Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan being put to death along with six others.

"However, I believe Australia has the opportunity for a strong role in the Asia Pacific and this is even more the case since the executions, as the whole world is now looking at how Australia is going to react."

Wyer says APLN will fight for consistency with laws and sentencing, as this will better serve all parties' interests.

"APLN is an organisation of passionate people who are coming together throughout the Asia Pacific to protect life under law and to publicise the best means of building prosperity in the Asia Pacific through strong, healthy consistency in the application of laws and sentencing," she says.

 

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