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Three Australians spared death penalty in Bali

Three members of the so-called Bali Nine have had their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment following a judicial review by the Supreme Court. Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh were spared execution by firing squad. The three had been on death row since 2006 when the Supreme Court, ruling on an appeal, had increased their original life sentences, for smuggling drugs in Bali, to sentences of death.   Three of the Bali Nine continue to face execution. Scott Rush, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan challenged the validity of the death penalty in drugs cases before the Constitutional Court, but had their case rejected in October 2007. Renae Lawrence is serving a 20-year sentence and Michael Czugaj and Martin Stephens were sentenced to life. Amnesty International welcomed the news of the three commuted sentences and called on the Indonesian Government to abolish the death penalty. “The application of the death penalty is a violation to the right of life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Tim Parrrit, Asia-Pacific Deputy Programme Director. In total, 11 people were sentenced to death in Indonesia last year. Tim Parritt said that, while it is legitimate for the Indonesian government to take appropriate law-enforcement measures against drug offenders, there is no scientific evidence that the death penalty deters would-be traffickers more effectively than other punishments. “We call on the Indonesian government to follow the example set by 135 countries around the world which have already abolished the death penalty in law or practice, including neighbouring Philippines which abolished the death penalty in 2006,” said Tim Parritt. The trend towards total abolition continued in 2007 with the UN General Assembly adopting a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions. The resolution was supported by 104 countries in favour, with 54 countries against.