The bottom line appears to be that what the AFP did in alerting the Indonesian police about the Bali 9 was legal, but was it moral, and were there other alternatives?
Brisbane solicitor Stephen Keim says that Lee Rush, father of Scott Rush, one of the Bali 9, had his lawyer approach the AFP because his son was going to Asia for no good reason. Rush’s lawyer was left with the impression that a passport alert had been raised and that his son would be going nowhere. Because of this he didn’t approach his son directly.
The contention is that Lee Rush was intentionally deceived. The AFP had a number of the Bali 9 already under surveillance and didn’t want to interrupt the drug operation at that time.
The AFP say that they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest the group before they went overseas. Keim says this is questionable in view of the detail given in a letter to the Indonesian police. He also believes they could have been arrested on return to Sydney, but the AFP say there was a risk the drugs would have been passed off at the airport.
Against this the AFP told The World Today:
The simple facts are that at the time we were working with a very incomplete picture. We didn’t know everybody that was involved, we didn’t know the organisers. We didn’t know all of the plans; we didn’t even know what the illicit commodity was likely to be.
The Keim article says that the AFP were not aware of Myruan Sukumaran at the time they wrote to the Indonesians.
The AFP completely reject that police used information from Bali 9 member Scott Rush’s father to tip off Indonesian authorities. They also say:
Claims that the AFP gave these assurances that Scott Rush would be stopped and warned before he left Australia are completely incorrect.
Adam McBeth from Monash University accepts that the AFP could not have effected the arrests before departure, but suggests that an assurance should have been sought from the Indonesians that the death penalty would not be invoked before giving them information. He says that Australia has an obligation not to expose people to the death penalty.
Catherine Renshaw, senior lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Western Sydney, says:
there is a strong case that under international law, as a country that has abolished the death penalty, Australia is under a duty not to expose anyone to a real risk of its application. The UN Human Rights Committee held precisely that in the 2003 case of Judge v Canada.
McBeth also believes the group could have been arrested in Sydney.
Simon Bronitt, Deputy Dean (Research) and Deputy Head of School at The University of Queensland, looks at the formal guidelines governing the AFP’s involvement in international police co-operation. He says:
- The security rationale of the guideline weighs too heavily against the human rights rationale. The guideline should be reviewed, drawing further input from senior police leaders, civil society and human rights experts.
I’m getting the impression that our politicians don’t care too passionately about human rights. In that they probably reflect predominant public opinion.