Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Death Penalty "debate" is a disgrace.

It violates the right to life.


The media is whipping up a feeding frenzy over Kevin Rudd supposedly "rebuking" the ALP's Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Robert McClelland for a statement he made yesterday about the Death Penalty.

The really disgusting thing is the way in which Alexander Downer has been whipping this issue up.I vividly remember Alexander Downer welcoming the announcement of the imposition of the Death Penalty on the Bali Bombers. I was appalled at the time, by Downer's statement, for it is in direct contradiction of Australia's bi-partisan stance in opposition to the Death Penalty - whether in Australia, or overseas. It is also in contradiction of Australia's ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. So much for Australia's Foreign minister representing this Government's official policy on international law. It is another example of the Government of Shame, in operation.

And Downer made feeble efforts to have the death penalty waived on an Australian citizen in Singapore (on the grounds of Australia's "high moral principle") - but let us not forget that the person concerned there was an Australian of Vietnamese origin. I would not dream of suggesting Downer is a racist bastard - you can make up your own mind on that. Hypocrite? Certainly!

As the Indonesian Lawyer Wirawan Adnan, who is defending at least one of the Australians convicted of drug charges in Indonesia (the so-called Bali 9) has said - this debate weakens Australia's arguments against executions of our citizens (abroad).

  • We perceive this as a little bit inconsistent with the death penalty and makes it difficult for the Bali nine to go for a lesser sentence than death," Wirawan Adnan said.

    Another lawyer for the Bali bombers, Achmad Michdan, called Australia's position hypocritical.

Here is a draft letter to Alexander Downer from a website about the Death penalty.
  • [insert date]
  • The Hon Alexander Downer MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
PO Box 6022
Canberra ACT 2600
  • Dear Minister
  • The worldwide trend towards the abolition of capital punishment is undeniable and Australia must establish itself as a clear opponent, unafraid to express its views.
  • We failed in our pleas for clemency for Van Nguyen hung in Singapore in Dec 05 by campaigning too little too late, our apparent double-standards and inconsistent stance was widely noted at this time and surely had some bearing on the outcome. Now six more young Australian citizens, three of whom were teenagers when incarcerated, face the firing squad in Indonesia for being drug mules. Australia cannot be content with the death penalty, even when courts have discretion in imposing it. We must press for better protections of human rights, and awareness throughout the world that there cannot be a justice that kills.
  • We acknowledge the need to address serious crimes, but there is no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. Surely one of the principles of sentencing is rehabilitation; the death penalty renders this impossible with no opportunity to make better choices or the chance to return to society with a positive contribution, a second chance. The death sentence represents the ultimate failure of justice.
  • Officially Australia has a long-standing principled opposition to capital punishment. In 1990 Australia signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which commits signatory nations not only to abolish the death penalty, but to undertake "an international commitment to abolish the death penalty". Australia's traditionally strong position on the death penalty has been undermined in recent years by what appears to be double standards. If we are to restore credibility when arguing for our own citizens to be spared, Australia must maintain a clear and principled stance against capital punishment in all circumstances.
  • Yours sincerely
  • [Insert Name and Address]

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