Silhouette of simulated execution

Human rights organisations call for an overhaul to government campaigning to end death penalty

A group of leading Australian and international human rights organisations are calling for an overhaul to the way the Australian government campaigns to end the death penalty, today launching a new strategy document: ‘Australian Government and the Death Penalty: A Way Forward’.

NGOs united to develop blueprint

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Reprieve Australia, Australians Detained Abroad, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Civil Liberties Australia and UnitingJustice Australia have joined forces to launch the blueprint.

The blueprint outlines the four steps the government must take if it wants to build on the current momentum to end the death penalty:

  • Developing a new Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade public strategy document aimed at ending the death penalty, everywhere;
  • Using Australia’s aid programs to support civil society organisations campaigning for abolition in countries which retain the death penalty;
  • Joining forces with other nations to push for universal adoption of a global moratorium on the death penalty;
  • Putting in place stronger legislation so the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is required by law not to share information with other law enforcement agencies that would potentially result in suspected perpetrators facing the death penalty.

Australia must advocate against the death penalty

“The Australian government has recently been outspoken about its condemnation of state sanctioned killings in Indonesia,” said Claire Mallinson, National Director, Amnesty International Australia.

“It must, and can, continue to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, particularly in our region, irrespective of the nationality or crime of the person being sentenced.

“The recent executions of eight men in Indonesia, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, was an inhuman and unjust punishment and represents exactly why the Australian government must continue to speak out against the death penalty whenever it occurs,” she stated.

“The time is ripe for Australia’s foreign ministry to make public a new comprehensive policy to end the death penalty worldwide, with specific and achievable goals for individual countries.” – Elaine Pearson, Australia Director at Human Rights Watch

“The time is ripe for Australia’s foreign ministry to make public a new comprehensive policy to end the death penalty worldwide, with specific and achievable goals for individual countries.”

Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch

Claire Mallinson added, “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,” Claire Mallinson said.

Comprehensive policy required

Elaine Pearson, Australia Director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The time is ripe for Australia’s foreign ministry to make public a new comprehensive policy to end the death penalty worldwide, with specific and achievable goals for individual countries.

“The strategy should include consistent public and private diplomatic pressure to end this cruel practice, showing how the death penalty has failed to deter crime and been unjustly applied,” Pearson said.

“The strategy should include consistent public and private diplomatic pressure to end this cruel practice, showing how the death penalty has failed to deter crime and been unjustly applied.”

Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch

Emily Howie, Director of Advocacy and Research at the Human Rights Law Centre, said: “If the Bali 9 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”.

Global momentum toward abolition

Ursula Noye, Vice President, Reprieve Australia said: “Momentum is building globally for the abolition of the death penalty. In recent months, both the Australian people and the government have spoken out powerfully against executions.

“The time is right for Australia to take a lead role and build a regional coalition for abolition. We should make future generations proud,” Noye said.

For more information about the death penalty, please see Amnesty International’s latest annual review of the death penalty worldwide.

Find out more about the Amnesty International Australia’s campaigns against the death penalty and how you can help save lives today.

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