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Indonesia Urged to Spare Drug Traffickers

FILE - Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan, center, and Myuran Sukumaran, left, are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali, October 8, 2010.

Rights groups are urging Indonesia to abandon plans to execute nine convicted felons, including two Australian drug traffickers.

Nine death-row drug convicts have been given official notifications that their executions by firing squad could be carried out within 72 hours.

The government in Canberra has also pleaded with Jakarta to spare the lives of two Australian citizens sentenced to death for their part in a plot to smuggle 8 kilograms of heroin from the Indonesian holiday island of Bali to Australia.

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran could have only days to live.

The ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine - a group of young Australians convicted of drug smuggling - have been on death row since 2006. They have now been given 72 hours notice of their executions by Indonesia authorities, although an exact date has yet to be set.

'Fear the worst'

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said she fears time is running out.

“I fear the worst. I fear that Indonesia will seek to proceed with the execution of the two Australian citizens. I am deeply and profoundly concerned by this,” she said. “I have sought to make contact with [Indonesian] foreign minister [Retno] Marsudi to register our concern.”

Despite diplomatic pressure from around the world, Indonesia appears intent on carrying out death sentences on the two Australians, along with citizens from Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and the Philippines.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to Indonesia to spare the group from execution.

Rights groups are also pressing Indonesia to change its mind.

Diana Sayed, a crisis campaigner with Amnesty International, said there is still time for Jakarta to reconsider its stance.

“It is never too late. Where there is life there is hope. There is still time to halt these executions, there is still time to reintroduce the moratorium on the death penalty, and, you know, follow the rest of the world in abolishing the death penalty because the global trend is away from this,” Sayed stated.

Supporters of the two Australians insist they have been thoroughly rehabilitated and have become role models for other inmates. Behind bars, Chan has become a Christian pastor and Sukumaran an accomplished artist.

Officials in Jakarta said that each of the foreign inmates facing death by firing squad has exhausted all legal avenues of appeal.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo has warned his country faces a “drugs emergency” and has promised to take a tough stance on convicted felons.