Sunday, 24 June 2007

Australia: Rudd would oppose death penalty

The author of a new biography of Australia's Opposition Leader says Kevin Rudd would launch a campaign against the death penalty if he was elected Prime Minister.

Robert Macklin said Mr Rudd had not spoken widely about the issue before, but his authorised biography contained "a heck of a lot that is absolutely brand new".

"For example, I'm sure that no one has ever mentioned that if he gets to be prime minister one of his important foreign policy objectives will be to begin a campaign to rid the world of the death penalty," the ABC quoted him as saying.

As Opposition spokesman for foreign affairs, Kevin Rudd was active in his opposition to the execution of Australian citizen Van Tuong Nguyen in Singapore, making personal representations and public calls for the Australian Government to intervene in the case.

On 3 December 2005, the day after Van Tuong Nguyen was hanged, Mr Rudd told a media conference that Australia could do "a lot more" to abolish the death penalty.

"The Prime Minister has asked today whether there was anything more that Australia could now do to abolish the death penalty worldwide. The Prime Minister's response was that there was not much more that Australia could do," Mr Rudd said.

"I disagree with the Prime Minister, there is a lot that Australia can do. Australia must, with the Europeans, work through the United Nations to abolish the death penalty universally."

He said Australia could work against the death penalty through the United Nations and in cooperation with "the Europeans".

Australia had signed the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, along with 50 other countries.

"But [that] leaves about 150 other countries to go, around the world. And that is where Australia can team up with the Europeans, who have a similar attitude to Australia, to make sure that we put in every effort to abolish the death penalty universally and for all time," he said.

"It doesn't matter whether we are talking about the death penalty in the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran, or in the Republic of Singapore, Australia should get behind the Europeans, through the United Nations, to put in every effort to abolish this form of punishment, once and for all, throughout the world, and for all time."

He also called for consistent opposition to the death penalty worldwide.

"It is important that our policy is consistent. Labor policy, like the Liberal policy, worldwide, is opposed to the death penalty. And whether we are talking about individuals in Iraq or Indonesia or elsewhere, our policy has to be consistent.

"When it comes to Australians, Australian citizens, who are convicted of the death penalty, then together with the Liberal Party, Labor's policy is to make representations to the government concerned to try and seek clemency."

Related stories:
Remembering Van Tuong Nguyen -- 29 November, 2006
MP criticises "tragic waste of human life" -- 29 November, 2006
Trade undisturbed by Singapore execution -- 04 July 2006
Victoria criticises Singapore death penalty -- 17 April 2006

1 comment:

Eugene D. Gibson said...

I have read most of the articles and from what I have read recently about the EU tells me that this will not happen anytime soon!They cannot decide on a constitution.To wield such power is a dangerous thing!