Indonesia and Australia discuss asylum center proposal and drug smugglers’ death sentence

November 2nd, 2010 - 8:34 pm ICT by BNO News  

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the Merdeka State Palace in Jakarta, discussing the Australian proposal for an asylum center and a possible prisoner swap.

Following the meeting, Yudhoyono said to be “open” to Australia’s plans of constructing a refugee center in Timor-Leste aimed to reduce asylum seekers through Southeast Asia on their way to Australia. The processing center is expected to have a cost of around $30 million.

“We need to ensure that the regional processing center is the proper way,” Yudhoyono said. “Indonesia is open to that, but we have to discuss this in depth.”

Gillard added that further talks would be held next year, saying that the processing center would “undercut” the business model of people smugglers.

“We need to be working with countries of origin, countries of transit and countries of destination,” Gillard said. “Our dialogue is able to comprehend all of those matters.”

In addition, Gillard mentioned the cases of convicted drug smuggler Schappelle Corby and the Bali Nine heroine smuggling ring during the meeting.

While Corby has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for smuggling four kilograms (8.8 pounds) of marihuana to the island of Bali in 2004, three of the Bali Nine ring are currently on death row.

“I have, as the Australian Prime Minister, also spoken today to the President about matters involving some Australians, most particularly of Miss Schapelle Corby, and indicated the Australian government’s support for her clemency plea,” Gillard said.

Yudhoyono said “proper consideration, especially when concerning serious crimes,” was necessary in order to review the possible clemency of foreigners.

“I respect the independence of Indonesia’s justice system. And in the case of Miss Corby, based on our system here, there have been actually some sentence reductions,” Yudhoyono said.

Furthermore, Yudhoyono proposed Indonesia and Australia to develop an extradition partnership, including on mutual legal assistance and the transfer of sentenced persons, to address similar issues in the future.

Following the meeting with Gillard, Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit Yogyakarta on Tuesday to meet with affected residents of the Mount Merapi eruptions. He called on officials to continue taking safety precautions as Indonesia is prone to natural disasters.

“We have to change the way we see disasters in this country. Our country is prone to natural disasters such as earthquake, tsunami and volcano eruption. When we are aware of our geography, we have to do whatever we can do for our survival to face these disasters,” he said.

Indonesia was hit by two major disasters last week. First, a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake on Monday generated a devastating tsunami that struck villages on the Mentawai Islands, killing more than 400 people. Later, Mount Merapi erupted on Java, killing more than 30 people.

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