Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Australian government reminded of death penalty opposition

The Australian government has been reminded of the stance it took on the death penalty before it won office, after a member of parliament introduced a resolution yesterday calling for clemency for three young Australians under sentence of death in Indonesia.

New South Wales MP Chris Hayes introduced the private member's bill yesterday, which noted three members of the so-called 'Bali 9' faced execution for drug trafficking, and called on the Australian government to advocate clemency.

A shorter version of the same resolution was introduced on 29 May 2007, by Robert McClelland, who is now attorney-general in the Rudd Labor government.

The two resolutions differ in three significant respects, with the latest resolution:

* expressing "opposition to the imposition of the death penalty", whereas the earlier version explicitly opposed only "the imposition of the death penalty on any Australian citizen"

* calling on the Australian government to "advocate clemency for these three Australian citizens [on death row in Bali], as and whenever appropriate", and

* encouraging law reform to implement the Indonesian Constitutional Court's October 2007 recommendation that alternatives be provided to a mandatory death penalty.

Robert McClelland was publicly rebuked by his leader Kevin Rudd during the 2007 election campaign, after he made public remarks encouraging consistent opposition to the use of the death penalty and "shrewd diplomatic activism" for abolition within the region.

(Thanks to Cynthia Banham for the tip about the Hayes resolution, in her article in today's Sydney Morning Herald.)

Related stories:
Australia defends selective appeals for life -- 16 August 2008
'Only Australians' should be spared execution -- 06 January 2008
Three of 'Bali 9' off death row: Indonesia -- 6 March 2008
Indonesia: Right to life and execution -- 30 October 2007
No Australian government will oppose terrorist executions -- 10 October 2007
Australia: Rudd would oppose death penalty -- 24 June 2007
Australia 'should act against death penalty' -- 03 August 2006

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