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Australian Federal Police officers are set to be called before a parliamentary committee within weeks to explain the organisation’s role in delivering the executed Bali nine ring leaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to Indonesian authorities a decade ago.
The AFP gave information to Indonesian officials about the Bali nine which led to their arrests for drug smuggling in 2005. The AFP has previously declined to comment in detail on the matter while the Australians’ case was before Indonesian courts.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he intends to raise the issue with AFP officials at upcoming Senate estimates hearings in May. Senator Xenophon also wrote to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on Wednesday to ask that the matter be examined separately.
“This is not about recriminations – it is about making sure that this never, ever happens again,” he said.
A spokesman for the AFP said it will hold a press conference to answer questions from journalists on their role in the Bali nine case.
Bob Myers, the barrister who tipped off the AFP about the Bali nine’s plans in an effort to prevent a family friend from committing a crime said Wednesday’s executions were a “black day” for the AFP.
Mr Myers said police had handed the Bali nine to Indonesian authorities knowing they were subjecting the group to potential death by firing squad.
“This is a black day for the AFP, a day they deliberately exposed nine Australians to the death penalty,” he said.
But Chris Ellison, who was the minister for justice and customs at the time of the Bali nine arrests, said it was unfair to blame the AFP for the executions.
“To say they have blood on their hands is unfair,” he told Sky News.
“One of the guidelines the Australian Federal Police works under is that it should co-operate with international law enforcement, and it was doing that.
“If it had allowed the transaction to happen in Indonesia that could well have damaged relations as well.”
Liberal MP Philip Ruddock, who was attorney-general at the time the Bali nine were arrested, said a review by Judge Paul Finn in 2006 found that the AFP had acted lawfully.
“These are difficult issues and I don’t think there should be recrimination about it,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that AFP guidelines on providing information which could see people face the death penalty were changed in 2009.
He said it would be appropriate for Parliament to debate possibly tightening these guidelines further in future weeks.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government was satisfied with the guidelines on information sharing.
Clive Palmer said he would introduce a private member’s bill, co-sponsored by Victorian independent MP Cathy McGowan, into the House of Representatives to minimise the chance of Australians facing the death penalty overseas.
Under the draft legislation circulated by Mr Palmer, public officials who disclose information that could lead to the execution of Australians overseas would face a minimum prison sentence of a year and a maximum sentence of 15 years.
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