House Hansard 

Prisoner Transfer Agreement
Source: House of Reps - Parl No. 41

Schapelle Corby
FLASH BACK - 1st July 2005

MAY, Margaret Ann
Member for McPherson (Qld) Liberal Party of Australia
Parliamentary service - Elected to the House of Representatives for McPherson, 

Q: Mrs MAY (McPherson) (2:18 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Would the minister inform the House about the process of negotiating a prisoner transfer agreement with Indonesia?

Hon. Alexander John Downer

Minister for Foreign Affairs from 11.3.96 to 3.12.07

A: Negotiating a prisoner transfer agreement with Indonesia?

Mr DOWNER Mr DOWNER (Mayo) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —I thank the honourable member for McPherson for her question and tell the House that the Australian delegation, with officials from both the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Attorney-General's Department, will be in Jakarta next week to discuss a bilateral treaty on the transfer of prisoners between Australia and Indonesia. We have arrangements with a range of states of this kind. We have 57 countries we have arrangements with through the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and we have recently finalised a bilateral agreement with Thailand. It is important to recognise that, in the case of the other agreements we have, transfer of prisoner arrangements allow for a citizen convicted of a crime overseas to serve their sentence in Australia. They do not permit the offender to be released on return to Australia. Such agreements also require that all appeals processes must be exhausted before a transfer can be considered.

Indonesia currently does not have any bilateral prisoner transfer treaties, not with any other state, so it is important to recognise that these negotiations may be complicated and it may take some time to reach agreement. But it also worth remembering that, once that agreement is reached, assuming it is, between the Australian and Indonesian governments, it is likely that that agreement will require some amendments to legislation, including in Indonesia, and it is certain that that agreement would have to be ratified by the Indonesian parliament. I say that because I know a lot of people in Australia are upset about the Corby verdict. But I would say this: to continually attack Indonesia and denigrate its institutions and leaders will build up a good deal of anti-Australian sentiment in Indonesia and it will make it very difficult to conclude agreements of this kind, particularly through public institutions like the Indonesian parliament.

I am aware that today the Australian Federal Police and the ACT Fire Brigade are investigating a possible suspicious package that was received this morning by the Indonesian embassy. The embassy has been closed. It is surrounded by fire engines and other emergency services equipment. This is a matter of great concern and it is the sort of thing that is very unhelpful, to say the least. I make the point that as a government we condemn this sort of behaviour, we condemn this sort of abuse and we would urge people who are concerned about Schapelle Croby to ensure they put their energies into supporting the legal defence team and not put their energies into abuse and denigration of Indonesia, its institutions and its leaders and not to undertake these sorts of activities which, at least, are potentially threatening to Indonesian staff working here in Australia.