Capital punishment

10 October 2007

WHEN Van Nguyen was hanged in Singapore, many Australians were shocked and outraged. Today is "World Day Against the Death Penalty". Opposition to capital punishment cannot be selective. We lose credibility internationally when we argue that Australians are in a special category and should not be executed, while those who harm Australians can be put to death.

At this time, when Indonesia's Constitutional Court is considering the legality of the death penalty in relation to the Bali 9, it is important for Australia's leaders to maintain a consistent stance against judicial killing. Unfortunately, the failure to do so in recent days has damaged our international credibility on this issue.

President of Liberty Victoria, Julian Burnside QC said: "It is deeply regrettable that this issue has distressed those affected by the Bali bombings, so close to the 5th anniversary of that terrible event. But our sympathy for the victims and their relatives should not distract attention from a simple fact: the death penalty is pre-meditated killing of an individual by the State. It is never acceptable"

He added: "Of course we condemn the perpetrators of terrible crimes, but if we are prepared to support state-sanctioned killing we descend to their level. For the sake of affirming the values we uphold and defend, we must never support capital punishment anywhere, for any person."

We call on all Australian political parties to adopt a consistent stance in relation to capital punishment, and to oppose it actively in all circumstances.