Lee Rush, the father of convicted drug smuggler Scott Rush who is currently facing execution in Indonesia, has this week launched a petition calling for the Government to have all Australian citizens serving a custodial sentence abroad repatriated to Australia.
Rush told Lawyers Weekly today that he launched the petition over the weekend in support of a broader campaign by the Australian Services Union, which calls for the Australian Government to prohibit the use of capital punishment against Australian citizens at home or abroad, as well as the expansion of the current repatriation program.
Rush said it was too early to gauge the initial full reaction to the launch of the petition, but noted broad media support. For the most part, Rush said that the legal community has supported his son's plight - predominantly lawyers against the death penalty who take the current situation of Rush and others on death row overseas as a means to raise public awareness of the wide implications of capital punishment.
Rush also praised the assistance of his son's lawyers, including Colin Macdonald QC and John North - a former Law Council of Australia president who was recently appointed a judge of the District Court of NSW.
The petition calls for the Government to explore the fact that there are "currently no Federal laws to prohibit the use of capital punishment against Australian citizens at home or abroad". It also requests the House of Representatives and the Senate to "legislate at the earliest opportunity to introduce and pass laws that prohibit the use of capital punishment against all Australian citizens."
As part of the campaign Rush will also attend an awareness concert on 23 August for Australians Against Capital Punishment, and he will then attend a second concert in support of a Nigerian man who shares a cell with Rush and is also facing the death penalty.
Rush said his son's options now rest on a final appeal to occur at some point in the next 12 months, and that they are awaiting word from the Attorney-General in Jakarta.
- Angela Priestley