Death Penalty News (2005-2007)

Government authorises more death penalty cooperation

8 August 2007: The new federal Justice Minister has admitted that the government has authorised the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to assist in death penalty cases in Indonesia, Malaysia and Tonga - without even seeking a guarantee that no one would be executed.

CCL issued a media release condemning this admission as a violation of Australia's international human rights obligations.

President of human rights commission speaks out against death penalty

22 October 2006: The Hon. John von Doussa QC, President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, delivered a speech today calling on Australia to take the lead in encouraging the nations in our region to abolish the death penalty.

President von Doussa said that "Australia should be steadfast in its opposition to the use of the death penalty in any country in any circumstances". He continued:

"Australia’s opposition to the death penalty should be clear and consistent, regardless of the crime, regardless of the country, regardless of the citizenship of the convicted. In a regional context, opposing the death penalty for some crimes but not for others, for some criminals but not our own citizens, opens Australia to charges of hypocrisy and undermines our commitment to the universal abolition of the death penalty."

Australian senate calls for cooperation to adopt death penalty treaty

9 August 2006: The Australian Senate today passed a non-partisan motion calling on all Australian Parliaments (State and Federal) to work together to adopt the Second Optional Protocol into Australian law. The motion was sponsored by Senators from many of the political parties represented in the Senate. You can read the motion in the Senate Hansard.

lowy institute releases paper on Australia and the death penalty

9 August 2006: The Lowy Institute's Dr Michael Fullilove has released a policy briefing on Australia and the death penalty. He has called on the Australian government to avoid hypocrisy on the issue by calling for clemency for the Bali bombers. Read the paper here.

Privy Council abolishes mandatory death penalty in the Bahamas

8 March 2006: The Privy Council strucj down the Bahamas' mandatory death penalty as unconstitutional. Read more... or read the Privy Council's decision...

Van Tuong Nguyen to be executed

22 October 2005: Melbourne man Mr Van Tuong Nguyen's plea for clemency was denied. He is to be executed in the next few weeks. Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action to save Mr Nguyen, which includes information on what you can do to send your message for clemency to Singaporean officials. Mr Nguyen is likely to be executed within the next few weeks. You can take action today, by visiting Amnesty International Australia's website:

Singapore to execute Australian Nguyen

21 October 2005: Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, has announced that Singapore will execute Mr Van Tuong Nguyen in the near future. The Singaporean government has refused Mr Nguyen clemency. Read CCL's media release...

South Korea moves closer to abolition

13 October 2005: The South Korean National Assembly is expected to vote on abolishing the death penalty in December 2005. CCL has encourage the Australian Parliament to offer all the support it can to see that this will happen. If South Korea abolishes the death penalty it will be only the third country in East and South-East Asia to do so. Read CCL's note on South Korea and the death penalty...

Liberia becomes 55th country to sign second optional protocol

16 September 2005: At the United Nations In New York, Liberia ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. This means that 55 nations have now signed the Optional Protocol. This clearly demonstrates that the international trend is to abolish the death penalty. Read more...

Tran Van Thanh's death sentence commuted

24 August 2005: Vietnamese President, Tran Duc Luong, has commuted Australian Tran Van Thanh's death sentence to life imprisonment. Mr Tran was convicted of trafficking 682g of heroin in Vietnam. Read SMH article...

AS supreme court bans death penalty for juveniles

1 March 2005: In the case of Roper v Simmons, the US Supreme Court today ruled unconstutitional the execution of juveniles who commit capital crimes when they are under 18 years of age. The Court found that the use of capital punishment in such circumstances amounted to 'cruel and unusual punishment' - a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the US Bill of Rights.
read the judgment...

CCL reaffirms its opposition to the death penalty

27 October 2004: At its Annual General Meeting in Sydney, NSW CCL unanimously passed a motion reiterating its total opposition to the death penalty under all circumstances. read the motion...

Privy Council rules mandatory death penalty violates human rights

7 July 2004: In striking down a Jamaican law that imposed a mandatory death sentence for certain crimes, the Privy Council confirmed today that such sentencing laws amount to inhuman punishment. In delivering their judgment, the Law Lords said that, "To condemn a man to die without giving him the opportunity to persuade the court that this would in his case be disproportionate and inappropriate is to treat him in a way that no human being should be treated" (at para 33). read the judgment...

Samoa abolished the death penalty

21 January 2004: The South Pacific nation of Samoa abolished the death penalty for all crimes today. Parliament passed the Crimes (Abolition of Death Penalty) Amendment Act 2004. This follow the total abolition of capital punishment in Fiji in 2002. read more...

High Court judge warns against reintroducing death penalty

6 October 2003: His Honour Mr Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia delivered a speech in Melbourne today describing the death penalty as "the ultimate acknowledgement of the failure of civilisation". He was speaking at a function organised by Repreive (Australia) to commemorate the centenary of the High Court of Australia. 
read the speech...

Australian prime minister re-ignites death penalty debate

8 August 2003: Prime Minister John Howard has given the green light for Liberal opposition parties in the States & Territories to use the death penalty as an election policy.

Australia changes its stance on the death penalty

March 2003: Prime Minister John Howard has unilaterally changed Australia's longstanding principled opposition to capital punishment. 

US Supreme Court bans death penalty for mentally disabled

20 June 2002: In the case of Atkins v Virginia, the US Supreme Court today ruled the execution of the mentally disabled unconstitutional. The Court found that the use of capital punishment in such circumstances amounted to 'cruel and unusual punishment'.
read the judgment...

Chile abandons death penalty

4 April 2001: The Chamber of Deputies of Chile's parliament approved a bill today abolishing the death penalty. "This is a historic day," said Justice Minister Jose Antonio Gomez after the chamber supported the measure by a vote of 66-37. The Chilean Senate has already passed the bill, which replaces the death penalty with life imprisonment. The legislation supported by the governing centre-left coalition is now expected to be examined by a joint commission of senators and deputies and signed by President Ricardo Lago

Source: AFP, VALPARAISO, Chile

Execution of Michael Moore on the 28th March 2001

  • Letter from Michael

Capital punishment update

"Capital Punishment Update" is a newsletter that gives the latest information about the death penalty in Australia and around the world.

  • Australian charged with capital offence in Kuwait
  • allegations surface of AFP helping Vietnamese police in capital cases
  • Indonesian police seek death penalty for Bali Nine
  • Philippines, Japan and Russia debate abolishing the death penalty
  • another Australian sentenced to death in Vietnam
  • the Bali Nine, the AFP & the death penalty
  • mutual assistance in criminal matters: Indonesia & Australia
  • Schapelle Corby unlikely to face death penalty
  • lethal injections: not so painless afterall?
  • South Korea set to abolish death penalty
  • Singapore bans anti-death penalty campaigned from speaking
  • ACT may refuse to cooperate with Chinese authorities in murder case
  • opposition to death penalty grows in Australia - support slumps
  • Darryl Beamish's conviction quashed in WA
  • High Court Justice Ian Callinan speaks out against capital punishment
  • Shapelle Corby in Bali
  • Taiwan takes steps to abolish the death penalty
  • US Supreme Court stops executions of all juveniles.
  • Tran Van Thahn loses his appeal against death sentence in Vietnam
  • Toung Van Nguyen in Singapore
  • Shapelle Corby in Bali