The Jakarta Post
Rights groups have said that if Australia wants its opposition to the death penalty worldwide to be credible, it is important that Australian laws consistently reflect that opposition.
They spoke on the issuance of a blueprint for change entitled 'Australian Government and the Death Penalty: A Way Forward', which details four steps the government should take to build on the current momentum to end the death penalty.
The blueprint urges the Australian government to consult widely, including with the UK government, which already has a global strategy against the death penalty, as well as with advocacy groups in countries retaining the death penalty.
The rights groups joined forces to launch the new Australian blueprint to end the death penalty. They comprise Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), the Human Rights Law Centre, Reprieve Australia, Australians Detained Abroad, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties Australia and Uniting Justice Australia.
HRW notes that following the arrests of a drug trafficking group called the Bali Nine in 2005, it emerged that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) passed on detailed information about the alleged plan to smuggle heroin from Bali, without seeking guarantees that the information would not be used by the authorities to eventually seek the death penalty against the perpetrators.
HRW's director of advocacy and research Emily Howie said if the Bali Nine case happened again tomorrow, nothing would prevent the AFP from acting in the same way. 'Parliament should amend the AFP Act to include sufficient safeguards to prevent police sharing information which could lead to the death penalty,' she said.
'Momentum is building globally for the abolition of the death penalty. In recent months, Australian people and the government have spoken out powerfully against executions,' said Reprieve Australia vice president Ursula Noye.
AI Australia national director Claire Mallinson said the recent executions of eight men in Indonesia, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, was an inhuman and unjust punishment and represented exactly why the Australian government must continue to speak out against the death penalty whenever it occurred.
'We must now ensure Australia's stance against the recent executions is reflected in all government policy. We are asking for change across the Australian government ' through diplomacy, our aid program, our federal law enforcement agencies,' she said. (ebf)
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