Death Penalty

NSWCCL's policy is total opposition to the death penalty under all circumstances and in all countries.

NSWCCL has been advocating on behalf of the abolition of the death penalty in Australia and globally since it began. Now that the death penalty has been abolished in Australia, NSWCCL remains a strong advocate for Australians and others on death row.

On this page you will find...

  1. Information about the death penalty in Australia.
  2. Information about the death penalty in international law.
  3. Information about the death penalty in Europe.
  4. Information about the death penalty in the United States of America.
  5. Information about the current status and history of Australians on Death Row.
  6. Information about the current NSWCCL Policy on the Death Penalty.

  

Latest NSWCCL activity

Never releasing terrorists from jail a 'scorched earth policy'

NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks has responded to the suggestion made by a former judge that terrorists should be kept in prison after their sentences expire if they still hold extreme religious views. Speaking to ABC Radio Current Affairs AM, Stephen characterised these comments as "a scorched earth policy":

"What a dangerous suggestion it is that people should be kept locked up just because of their opinions, and what a terrible indictment on our system that we can't, through a process of programs in prison, deradicalise these individuals."

Listen: Stephen Blanks stunned by suggestion of not releasing terrorist from jail

Source: ABC Radio Current Affairs, AM, 29/01/15

 

See also: Prison radicalisation expert Clarke Jones says segregation only strengthening terrorists' beliefs, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/01/15

Judge's call to keep terrorists in prison indefinitely stuns civil liberties campaigners, ABC Radio, The World Today, 29/01/15


Mass data retention - the fight is on

Last year civil liberties and human rights groups resisted, with limited success, the worst elements of the veritable tsunami of new counter-terrorism laws the Abbot Government brought in swift succession to the Parliament.  Now we are fast approaching a decision point in the highly significant and contentious debate as to whether the Australian Parliament will legislate the mandatory collection and retention of mass telecommunications data for the bulk of the population to enable retrospective access by authorities.

Help us fight mass data retention - donate to the CITIZENFOUR screening and send a message to our politicians

It would be a major negative step for a democracy. It will be a major intrusion every citizen’s right to privacy - including those not suspected of any unlawful activity. This will have major flow-on implications for other freedoms and democratic values. In particular, it will undermine a robust and free press and constrain legitimate whistle-blowers by removing any confidentiality from all phone and internet communications.  

The combined CCLS consider it to be a step too far. We strongly oppose the policy concept and urge the Parliament to reject it. 

 

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'Outrage' if Bali Nine executions proceed

Bali Nine death row inmates Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are on a list of 26 prisoners Indonesia says will be executed this year, including six who will be killed this Sunday.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks said the Australian government should be making it clear to Indonesia that the Australian public "regards these executions as unacceptable and unjustifiable".

Mr Blanks said it was "reprehensible" that Indonesia was resuming executions.

"The death penalty is wrong in all countries and in all circumstances," Mr Blanks said.

Article: 'Outrage' if Bali Nine executions proceed

Source: Yahoo 7, 16/11/2014


Giving Bigots More Rights Is The Wrong Response To Charlie Hebdo Massacre

In response to the rekindled debate around section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, NSW Council for Civil Liberties Committee Member Lydia Shelley writes about Islamophobia and freedom of speech. She argues that the greater threat to Australians’ civil liberties comes from the lack of legal protections in the form of a Bill of Rights:

"Not all those who pose a threat to civil liberties and freedoms stand behind a foreign flag and hold Kalashnikovs. Some stand behind the Australian flag and promote the myth that civil liberties and freedoms need to be sacrificed in order to obtain security.

They can be persons in positions of power who seek to use freedoms and civil liberties as tools to maintain their power. They draft, and then pass, draconian legislation that strikes at the heart of democracy and the very same freedoms they are purporting to protect."

Article: Giving Bigots More Rights Is The Wrong Response To Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Source: New Matilda, 14/01/2015


Vale Kep Enderby

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of one of NSWCCL’s founding members, Kep Enderby QC, on 8 January 2015. Kep was lifelong advocate for civil liberties and an active progressive force in Australian politics for decades. 

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Muslim community leaders join mourners to pay respects to Sydney siege victims

NSWCCL Committee Member Lydia Shelley speaks to ABC radio:

"Coming down here today was a very important personal choice to me, but it's also indicative of the overwhelming feelings coming from the Muslim community as well," Ms Shelly said.

"We wanted to pay our respects for the lives that have been lost and to pay our respects to those who were injured in the experience that they went through.

"I'm just incredibly sad ... every single other Australian today is feeling the exact same thing."

Ms Shelly said the focus today should be on the victims rather than a potential backlash against the Muslim community.

"Our overwhelming focus has been on those who have lost their lives and our thoughts and prayers and condolences go out to the family members," she said.

"I don't even feel like it's right to speak about any potential blowback on a day like this because obviously that's not our focus at all.

"I would hope that the overwhelming messages of support that we've received is indicative of Australians rising up, reaching out to each other, strengthening our bonds.

"We're not going to give into fear and mistrust of each other."

Ms Shelly has denied claims the man responsible for the attack, Man Haron Monis, was an Islamic cleric. She said he was a sick man who was not representative of Muslim Australia.

"This man was not an Islamic cleric at all," she said.

"He was a self styled sheik, that's the name that he gave himself. He was not known to preach in our mosques or anything like that.

"These are the actions of somebody who is incredibly sick and very disturbed. It is not a reflection on our sheiks, on our faith at all, on our community and I think the majority of Australians and the support that we've received understand that message."

Read the full story and listen: Muslim community leaders join mourners to pay respects to Sydney siege victims

Source: The World Today, ABC Radio 16/12/14


NSWCCL welcomes A-G's commitment to release children from immigration detention

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties welcomes the Attorney-General’s announcement tonight, on International Human Rights Day, that all children in immigration detention, including those held on Christmas Island, will be released into the community within the next 2 or 3 months.

This announcement shows the government is listening to the Australian community.  The community rejects punitive treatment of asylum seeker children. 

The number of children in immigration detention should be zero.

The 2014 winner of the Human Rights Medal, Dorothy Hoddinott AO, shows what can be achieved when we treat children with dignity.    

Let’s hope that there will be more positive announcements from the government in relation to asylum seekers that shows that Australia is truly are a country of compassion, fairness and human rights.

Update: Sadly it has become clear that the Attorney-General was referring to the release of ONLY the children on Christmas Island. All others will remain in detention.  Also doubts have also been raised as to whether the Christmas Island children will be released into the community when they arrive in Australia. The Attorney should clarify this immediately. Seems we still have a way to go before the number of children in immigration detention is zero.


NSWCCL condemns the proposed amendments to the Migration Act

NSWCCL's submission into the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014, condemns the proposed amendments to the Legislation, as it is clear the changes intend to punish those who seek asylum from persecution, and who arrive in Australia by boat. In doing so, this Bill perpetuates the myth that asylum seekers who arrive by boat are ‘illegal’ and have no legal right to seek asylum.

Moreover the CCL condemns the amendments which suspend the rules of natural justice as they apply in the Maritime Powers Act. Such suspension removes the possibility of oversight by the judiciary, limiting the challenges to keep the actions of government in check, particularly with respect to the implementation of punitive policies on asylum seekers and refugees.

Click here for the submission


Proposed anti-terror law represents a "back door" to allow targeted killings of Australians on foreign battle fields

The Abbott government's latest proposed anti-terror law represents a "back door" to allow targeted killings of Australians on foreign battle fields, and make the Australian Muslim community feel "targeted" by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the Muslim Legal Network and the NSW Council of Civil Liberties argue in their joint submission to a parliamentary committee reviewing the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, introduced to Parliament on October 30 by Attorney-General George Brandis.

Article: Terror laws open door to targeted killings, warn Muslim and civil liberty groups

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 12/11/2014

Submission: New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties & Muslim Legal Network Joint Submission


AGM 2014 - Renewal and optimism

The 51st NSWCCL Annual General Meeting was held on the 15th October 2014 in the Council Chambers at Sydney Town Hall. Around thirty CCL members -including a strong cohort of firstimers -gathered to hear annual reports from the President, Secretary and Treasurer,to elect the Executive and Committee members for 2014/5 and to endorse formal CCL policies around major civil liberties issues.

They heard that the year had been a particularly challenging and depressing one with multiple legislative assaults on civil liberties and rights from both the NSW and the Federal Governments-but that, nonetheless, CCL as an organisation was traveling well.

CCL very actively opposed unwarranted and unwise changes to the recently reformed Bail Act and two rounds of bills proposing mandatory minimum sentences for drug and alcohol fueled violence.   For most of the year CCL has been campaigning against a veritable avalanche of new and proposed counter-terrorism laws from the Federal Government which will continue to the end of the current Parliamentary session. CCL had also engaged with electoral processes at both the national (2013 election Senate voting  processes) and state level (The City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Act 2014.)

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