ACT News

ACT legal fraternity holds vigil for Bali Nine pair on death row

Canberra's legal profession observed one minute's silence on Wednesday morning for two Australians facing the death penalty in Indonesia.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are awaiting transfer to Nusakambangan island in Central Java, where Indonesian authorities plan to execute them for drug smuggling.

Members of the legal profession gather in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Members of the legal profession gather in support of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: Rohan Thomson

More than 150 of Canberra's legal practitioners met at the ACT Supreme Court at 8am as part of a nationwide vigil observed by Australia's bar associations.

ACT Bar Association president Shane Gill said the gathering had been in support of the motion that the pair shouldn't face the death penalty. The vigil also represented the legal profession's abhorrence of the death penalty.

ACT Bar Association president Shane Gill, right, leads members of the legal profession in a minute's silence outside the ...
ACT Bar Association president Shane Gill, right, leads members of the legal profession in a minute's silence outside the ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"It is a brutal penalty which brutalises the system that administers it, and the community that administers it," Mr Gill said.

"In contrast, mercy is a sign of strength both for the system and the community.

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"We respect Indonesia's sovereign right to conduct its justice system, but we ask that they take a strong course of mercy for Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran."

Mr Gill said part of the brutality of the death penalty was that the condemned were forced to wait for it to be administered and were left uncertain about its administration.

"Delays in the administration of the death penalty in various jurisdictions have caused the penalty to be set aside because of the cruelty of the wait," Mr Gill said.

"It doesn't seem to be an effective deterrent.

"The rehabilitation Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran have made to their lives while in custody eloquently speaks of the futility of the death penalty."

Mr Gill said the Australian Federal Police needed to answer questions about its role in the arrest of the Bali Nine.

"We say there [are] some significant questions that need to be asked about how the AFP co-operates in cases where Australian citizens are exposed to the death penalty," he said.

"We say that is worthy of inquiry and close scrutiny and an appropriate control."

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League will hold a candlelight vigil for people on death row, including Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, at the Union Court of the Australian National University at 7.30pm on Wednesday.