Letting these men live, is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength.

“It is a sign of the strongest love, the greatest mercy when you extend it to those who least deserve it.” – Malcolm Turnbull

As Indonesia prepares to execute Bali 9 drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, more than 200,000 Australians have now added their voice to the urgent call for Indonesia’s president to put a halt to the execution of the prisoners.

Australian lawyers, in particular, have been united by the pair’s impending execution — because as well as representing a tragic loss of human life, many legal practicioners feel the men’s planned death is deeply unjust — and represents a blow to internationally agreed-upon human rights standards.

Chan (L) and Sukumaran (R)

“The death penalty is cruel and inhumane. It serves no purpose. Evidence from around the world demonstrates that it has no deterrent effect on crime,” human rights lawyer Diana Sayed of Amnesty International said.

“The death penalty is not an effective deterrent to crime,” Victorian Bar Chairman Jim Peters QC agreed. “The sanctity of human life is not protected by this barbaric penalty.”

Related content: This is what the Bali 9 pair’s last day on earth will look like.

So strongly do some lawyers feel that tomorrow morning, the Victorian legal profession will gather in Melbourne’s CBD to observe one minute’s silence for the two men.

Such a vigil by the legal profession is almost unheard of, a spokeswoman for the Victorian Bar Association told Mamamia — a reflection of the deep sense of injustice shared by those who’ve pledged to uphold their duty to the standards of their profession.

The family of Andrew Chan have said their last goodbye to their son.

Lawyer and personal friend to Chan and Sukumaran, Linda Rayment, told Mamamia the men’s impending death felt particularly unjust given the prisoners’ rehabilitated state.

“The whole point of prison is to deter, punish and rehabilitate. Not only are Andrew and Myu rehabilitated, but they are positioning other inmates to rehabilitate and I have seen firsthand over the past seven to eight years countless inmates who have been significantly impacted and changed for the better because of these two men,” Ms Rayment, an Associate at Nicholes Family Lawyers in Melbourne and a passionate supporter of the Mercy Campaign, said.

Ms Rayment added that the pair “are an asset to our community”.

“To kill them is to defeat the whole purpose of the penal system,” she said. “Let them live. Let them continue with their endeavours to effect positive change to themselves and others around them.”

A self-portrait by Myuran Sukumaran. (Photo: Getty Images).

The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, based at Melbourne Monash University, also publicly condemned the executions — releasing a statement listing the ways in which the imposition of the death penalty would constitute “a very serious breach of human rights by Indonesia.”

A statement by the Centre’s director Professor Sarah Joseph points out that capital punishment is permitted only for “the most serious crimes”, which has not been interpreted by courts to include drug offences.

In addition, the statement argues, the signalling of an actual date of execution some weeks out from that date raises “stresses and anxieties to intolerable levels, and amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment under international human rights law.”

The Centre also argues that there has been no credible consideration for clemency — even though international covenants stipulate that people sentenced to death are entitled to such a consideration.

Family Of Bali Nine Duo Myuran And Andrew Visit Kerobokan Prison
Family Of Bali Nine Duo Myuran And Andrew Visit Kerobokan Prison. (Photo: Getty Images)

Chan and Sukumaran’s legal team have made a similar claim.

“Clemency appeals should be reviewed, examined by the president individually,” lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, who represents Chan and Sukumaran, said. “There is no way the president can have a blank cheque to reject all clemency petitions, it is a violation of basic human rights.”

Another member of the legal team, Peter Morrissey SC, agreed that any moves to execute Chan and Sukumaran should not proceed as long as the court hearing was underway.

“It’s as if the courts on the one hand have got a live case but on the other hand the government’s proceeding to execute,” Mr Morrissey told ABC News Breakfast today.

“That’s just not the rule of law.”

The pair are waiting to be transferred to the island on which they will be executed.

During this sad time, a moving sentiment by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull — himself formerly a lawyer — powerfully sums up the sentiment shared by so many Australians, both those in and outside the legal profession.

“It is not weak to spare their lives. It is a sign of the strongest love, the greatest mercy when you extend it to those who least deserve it. That is a sign of strength,” Mr Turnbull said during an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A last night.

“President Jokowi can be so strong, so strong that he does not have to take the lives of two men but to give them life to continue to rehabilitate, to repent for the rest of their days.”

Related content: Malcolm Turnbull on Q&A last night.

Disclosure: Grace Jennings-Edquist previously worked at the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law.

You can support the Mercy Campaign here or read more about the Amnesty Campaign here.

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