Ministry ready to defend clemency for Corby
The Law and Human Rights Ministry says President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s clemency for Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby is legally appropriate, and it will defend any legal challenges.
Law and Human Rights Deputy Minister Denny Indrayana said on Friday there was nothing wrong with taking legal action against the President’s decision. However he confirmed his office would defend the five-year sentence cut for the Australian convict.
“Go ahead. Every citizen has a right to do these things,” he said, adding that critics should also see the act of clemency from the point of view of improving Indonesia-Australia relations and not just from that of drug enforcement.
Denny made the statement in response to the Anti-Narcotic National Movement (Granat), which reportedly plans to file a lawsuit against the President in the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN).
According to Granat, the President’s clemency violated the idea of good governance and the country’s moral principles. In addition to Granat, several other groups, as well as individuals, have also slammed the clemency, saying it was evidence of Indonesia’s weak diplomacy.
“The clemency indicates that our government is unable to perform as well as the Australian government in terms of protecting its people, as hundreds of Indonesians, many underage, are still being detained in penitentiaries in Australia. We regret the President’s priority in granting Corby clemency instead of working for the release of those Indonesians,” Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said in a statement.
Corby’s sentence reduction was first confirmed by the presidential spokesman noting that President Yudhoyono had signed it on May 15.
Corby, 34, was arrested in 2004 for smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana from Australia into Bali in a body-board bag. The Denpasar District Court sentenced her to 20 years in prison on May 27, 2005.
She first launched her bid for clemency in March 2010, arguing that she was suffering from a mental illness, as well as struggling to cope with life inside Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Penitentiary, where she is serving her sentence.
Since being arrested in 2004, Corby has served seven years and seven months on remand and in prison. Taken together with a series of remissions, the latest clemency and the maximum discount for good behavior, she may be eligible for parole by August.
Debate has focused on the possibility that Corby’s clemency is an attempt to bargain with the Australian government to release Indonesians detained in Australia.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa denied that either the Indonesian or Australian governments had arranged such a bargain prior to issuing Corby’s clemency.
“The government never made such an arrangement with the Australian government. We don’t exchange prisoners. And as far as Corby is concerned, things have been arranged according to the legal process.”
“I don’t need to comment further on this because the Law and Human Rights Ministry has spoken for the government. However, I must say that what has been done by the Australian government regarding Corby reflects their commitment to protecting their citizens. The Indonesian government is also committed to doing the same,” Marty told reporters at his office.
Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin had previously said that Corby’s release “should encourage Australia to release Indonesians detained in Australia or reduce their sentences”. (asa/png)