Thursday, 3 August 2006

Australia 'should act against death penalty'

Australia should take stronger action against the death penalty at home and in the region, according to the opposition Labor Party.

Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon MP said in a statement that Australia should "advocate more strongly" for its neighbours and allies to abolish the death penalty.

Australia has close diplomatic and economic relationships with some of Asia's leading executioners and it is a close ally of the USA, the only Western democracy that retains the death penalty.

She said any method of execution was "inhumane, no matter what the crime".

"Australia needs to use its position internationally and in the region to abolish the death penalty universally," Ms Roxon said.

"In the last year we have been sadly reminded of this by the hanging of van Nguyen in Singapore, the first Australian to be executed since Malaysia hanged Michael McAuliffe in 1993," she said.

Ms Roxon issued the statement on 11 July, the fifteenth anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations' human rights protocol against the death penalty.

She said Australia should also encourage its neighbours to ratify the Second Optional Protocol.

Although Australia had ratified the protocol, she said it had not yet been adopted into domestic law.

"I would like to see bipartisan support for adoption of the Protocol, so that its provisions would have binding force over the Commonwealth, States and Territories into the future," she said.

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