An Indonesian MP wants President Joko Widodo to immediately clarify the fate of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who remain on death row in Bali.
Sukumaran on Saturday received a visit in Bali’s Kerobokan jail from politicians considering the future of the country’s death penalty.
The visit came as Mr Joko was in Australia for the G20 summit, where he had informal talks with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Sukumaran and Chan were members of the Bali Nine, the young Australians arrested over a failed heroin smuggling plot.
The pair’s appeal for clemency was before former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for more than two years, but he failed to grant it before leaving office in October.
It’s now up to the new president known as Jokowi to decide.
Even with the threat of execution always looming over them, Chan and Sukumaran have been living productively behind bars.
Chan helps fellow inmates with religious instruction, while Sukumaran’s prison art studio is a creative outlet for him and many others.
One of the MPs to visit him there, Aziz Syamsudin, serves in Indonesia’s parliamentary law commission.
He said the visit was prompted by Amnesty International’s calls for Indonesia to follow other countries that are abolishing the death penalty.
The politician agreed, saying “we must adjust”.
But any change required a “breakthrough” from the president himself, Mr Aziz said, and was likely a long way off.
“The Jokowi-JK government must immediately decide whether the clemency or amnesty submitted by those convicts is granted or not,” he told reporters, referring to Vice President Jusuf Kalla by his nickname.
“If not, (the sentence) must be immediately executed by the attorney-general because if not it will only burden the government.”
Mr Aziz said it costs Rp5 trillion annually to feed prisoners in Indonesia’s over-full jails.
While he supported getting rid of the death penalty in future, in the view of Mr Aziz that shouldn’t apply to prisoners already sentenced.
“There’s no retroactivity, that shouldn’t be debated anymore,” he said.
In the art studio, Sukumaran told reporters he was still trying to use the days he had to better himself.
“I’m trying to be a better person,” he said.
His only message for Mr Joko was: “Please give us a second chance”.
The president will take the advice of ministers including his new Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, who, while respecting sentences handed down by the courts, says he personally doesn’t support the death penalty and feels a “dilemma”.
KEROBOKAN JAIL: WHO IS INSIDE?
– 877 inmates (capacity is 323 prisoners)
– 60 foreigners from 23 countries
– Six of them are Australians
– Three sentenced to death, Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and one Indonesian
– 15 sentenced to life, 12 of them foreigners.
Source: Kerobokan prison governor Sudjonggo.