Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Blow for Australian Prisoners in Indonesian Jails
AUSTRALIAN prisoners like Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine might need to serve at least three-quarters of their sentences in Indonesia before they would be allowed to return home under a prisoner transfer scheme. And such a scheme is, according to the Indonesian side, a very long way from becoming a reality.
It is a blow for Australian prisoners in Bali's Kerobokan Jail, who might have been hoping they could get back to Australia soon.
Corby, who is serving a 20-year sentence, has been recommended for a one-month sentence cut at Christmas as part of Indonesia's remission system whereby prisoners qualify for sentence reductions twice a year.
Fellow Australian Renae Lawrence, who is also serving a 20-year sentence for her role as a heroin courier in the so-called Bali Nine gang, is due to get one month and 15 days slashed from her term. Lawrence qualifies for more remissions than Corby because the latter lost one remission due to being caught with a banned mobile phone in jail.
If forced to serve 75 per cent of the sentence here it would mean Corby would remain in an Indonesian jail for up to 15 years before she would even be eligible for transfer. She has been diagnosed as being criminally insane and experts have contended she might not last that long in prison.
The ongoing issue of a prisoner transfer scheme was one of a number of issues discussed this week in Jakarta when Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor met Indonesia's new Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar. O'Connor said Indonesia was aware a prisoner transfer scheme was an important matter for Australia and would continue to be the focus of discussions.
However, Indonesia says it cannot nominate a time frame for when it might be finalised. Almost three years ago it was said to be ready for signatures but nothing has come of it.
There are major disagreements between the two countries on how such a scheme would operate and who would monitor it. Ria Chairiyah, the director of international law in Indonesia's Justice and Human Rights Ministry, who was at this week's meeting with O'Connor, said she could not say how much longer it would take, but it would be "a long time". And she said that Indonesia wanted prisoners to serve three-quarters of their sentence in Indonesia before they would even become eligible to be transferred to a jail in their home country to serve the remainder of their sentence.
Australia has long wanted this figure to be one-third.