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Executions will haunt Indonesia

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An Indonesian human rights advocate who campaigns to save domestic workers sentenced to death overseas has warned her government its new appetite for executions will backfire.

Jakarta stands accused of gross hypocrisy for paying to free its own citizens from death row abroad, while ignoring pleas from governments on behalf of citizens like Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

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It’s possible Indonesia could execute the pair within the week, after dismissing repeated appeals for mercy.

Anis Hidayah, of Migrant Care, advocates for millions of poor Indonesians who work abroad to support their families, who are often exposed to exploitation, abuse and rape.

The Bali Nine pair have been moved to another island ahead of their execution. Photo: ABC

Migrant Care also helps those who are convicted of crimes and sentenced to death in countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia is ramping up its efforts to assist them, this week announcing they should be given the maximum legal and consular assistance.

But Ms Anis fears all of that is imperilled by Indonesia’s recent return to practising the death penalty at home.

Accepting Indonesia’s prestigious Yap Thiam Hien Award for human rights last month, Ms Anis did not hold back her criticism, even before Indonesia’s Law and Human Rights Minister.

“How can we expect other countries to respect the lives of Indonesians when our own government fails to do the same?” she said.

She said Indonesia’s position will backfire.

“This will come back to bite Indonesia,” she said.

“This will make the government position very difficult when it asks other countries to set Indonesians free and on the other side, Indonesia is executing people.

“It’s a huge obstacle and a double standard.”

Migrant Care has counted 360 Indonesian migrant workers facing the death penalty. Of those, it says 230 are victims of predatory drug syndicates.

Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has summoned Australian embassy officials to a meeting in Jakarta on Monday to discuss formalities preceding the executions.

It will not provide a date, but Indonesia last month executed five foreign nationals days after notifying their embassies.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he won’t stop lobbying for Indonesia to spare the men.

“Millions of Australians are feeling very, very upset about what may soon happen to two Australians in Indonesia,” Mr Abbott said in Sydney on Saturday.

Chan, 31, and Sukumaran, 33, remain in Kerobokan jail where they’ve been imprisoned for 10 years since the Bali Nine heroin trafficking attempt.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, has urged Indonesia to halt its plans, saying: “I regret that the authorities continue to execute people in violation of international human rights standards”.

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