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What does the ACT think about the death penalty?

By Steven Bailey - 3 March 2015 70

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Inside my backyard shed are two signs that my fiancée and I recently made. The signs read, “Indonesia, we love you but please tell your Government to stop killing Australian citizens”.

Over the past month or so, I have spoken on various radio stations and contributed to numerous public forums against the state sanctioned killing of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

My spirits have been buoyed by the great diversity of Australians from all political persuasions who have sung with one voice against the Indonesian Government killing Australian citizens.

On the ABC’s Q&A, Alan Jones lashed out at the Australian Federal Police for ostensibly facilitating the proposed murder of the Australian citizens by the Indonesian authorities.

In the Parliament of Australia we have heard impassioned and eloquent pleas for mercy from the Minister, and Shadow Minister, for Foreign Affairs. And Malcolm Turnbull has appealed to Indonesia’s leadership, arguing that granting mercy is a sign of political strength rather than political weakness.

I am proud that the leader of my political party Fiona Patten has championed a powerful civil liberties message opposing the executions. The Australian Sex Party’s #BoycottBali campaign has empowered Australian citizens to act with a collective conscience by choosing to holiday in destinations that respect the most basic civil liberty of all – the right to live.

Yet in light of overwhelming public support for the lives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, I have been confronted by those with opposing views. I always welcome robust debate and I respect those who engage in the contest of ideas. Although, on a personal note, I have been surprised by the vehemence with which some have supported the state sanctioned murder of these two human beings.

As we all know, sometimes heartless minorities are more vocal than humane majorities but now, more so than ever, I am wondering to what extent the Australian public supports or rejects the death penalty.

The sanctity of Indonesia’s sovereignty has been used as an excuse to allow the murders to go ahead without objection. It’s unfortunate that such a lazy philosophical and ethical position could seriously be put forth in the 21st century. A position such as this can only serve to hinder the progressive moral development of humankind. The civil liberties of all humans on earth should be inherently immune to the egoism and constructs of statehood.

Two people have been locked up for ten years and are about to be dragged into the jungle and shot.

Grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters have agonised for years only to contemplate the seemingly inevitable brutal murder of their loved ones.

To make a human being wait ten years for death instead of freedom is a vicious, cruel, and evil form of punishment.

It is patently clear that killing people and imposing exceedingly punitive measures on human beings who make stupid mistakes out of desperation in their youth does not stop the scourge of unregulated drugs. That states continue the failed war on drugs is a moral blight on our humanity.

That any person would advocate state sanctioned killings 43 years after Whitlam’s Death Penalty Abolition Act is an extreme moral regression that could only be championed by someone whose place in humanity is retarded by a selfish ethical depravity and a misconception of the role a state should play in the lives of human beings.

I fear that if Indonesia goes ahead with killing of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, it will be difficult for an Australian Government to convince the public to give aid to our neighbour. That thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people could suffer because of a diminished will to afford aid in Indonesia’s hours of need would be the greatest tragedy of all.

What’s Your opinion?


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70 Responses to
What does the ACT think about the death penalty?
Weatherman 12:41 pm 03 Mar 15

bobster said :

There are a thousand things more evil than selling drugs in life.

It was heroin, it wasn’t like some mild cannabis or some softer drugs. Heroin is a very evil thing to sell.

Weatherman 12:39 pm 03 Mar 15

The Department of Foreign Affairs is constantly warning people about the dangers of not knowing the laws overseas. Not only that, but they have had to express dismay at having to deal with many issues that are based on people travelling to countries without knowing the local laws and customs, as well as ethics and morals.

Grimm 12:39 pm 03 Mar 15

bobster said :

To the intellectually muscled up proponents of state-sanctioned murder, consider this. Instead of Chan and Sukamaran, imagine it’s two of your best friends who chose this stupid thing to do. Better still…its your brother and sister or even your old dad and his best mate trying to make a quid before they slip into the old age pension.Do you still hold the same view? Of course you don’t. So before I accuse you of gross hypocrisy and an inability to think even a few centimetres outside the square, what ever happened to your ability to feel others emotional pain and to give someone a break. There are a thousand things more evil than selling drugs in life.

I still feel the same if it is a friend or relative. If you are stupid enough to traffic drugs through a country very well known to have the death penalty in place for exactly that, you deserve all you get. These people made a choice to do this, and knew they were gambling with their lives. What ever happened to personal responsibility? Why make constant excuses for morons?

John Hargreaves 12:28 pm 03 Mar 15

No human being has the right to take the life of another. The emotive arguments about an eye for an eye don’t wash with me. There are many heinous crimes for which the harshest punishment is warranted but death is not one of them.

I feel for the relatives of those about to die, the members of the firing squad and the two themselves. I grieve for them as I do for the victims of their heinous crimes.

The difference between a civilised word and that of a barbaric one is that we can think more clearly now and understand a bit more clearly of the responsibility we carry for “lives”.

One this particular one too, where is the mercy that only humans can express? Where is the acknowledgment by these two that they have done horrible things and have tried so hard to make amends?

And also, what part of role models to be exploited to stop others from this trade is a bad idea?

bobster 12:24 pm 03 Mar 15

To the intellectually muscled up proponents of state-sanctioned murder, consider this. Instead of Chan and Sukamaran, imagine it’s two of your best friends who chose this stupid thing to do. Better still…its your brother and sister or even your old dad and his best mate trying to make a quid before they slip into the old age pension.Do you still hold the same view? Of course you don’t. So before I accuse you of gross hypocrisy and an inability to think even a few centimetres outside the square, what ever happened to your ability to feel others emotional pain and to give someone a break. There are a thousand things more evil than selling drugs in life.

Solidarity 12:06 pm 03 Mar 15

So much attention, effort, discussion and money spent on a debate about two drug smugglers and their fate, just because they are Australian Citizens. What about the rest of the Australian Citizens – the ones that are non-drug smugglers on Australian soil who are facing death – Not as capital punishment, but through homelessness, addiction, situation, illness. I’m unsure why peoples priorities are so askew.

Ben_Dover 12:03 pm 03 Mar 15

“Australia, we love you but please tell your Government to stop pretending drug smugglers are hard done by.”

How many deaths would the smack these scumboys were dealing have caused.

bikhet 11:39 am 03 Mar 15

I opposed to the death penalty because it presumes that all those convicted are guilty and that they are beyond rehabilitation. However two questions that need to be asked are: Is there any doubt about their guilt? Are they being treated more harshly because they are Australians? If the answer to both is no then, as DF says:

dungfungus said :

“Two convicted drug couriers, one of whom was a previous offender and a ringleader in the overall plan to smuggle heroin into Australia, were sentenced to death about 10 years ago according to well publicised Indonesian law and after exhausting all appeals to have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment they are to be transported to an Indonesian island where they will be executed by firing squad.”

fernandof 11:39 am 03 Mar 15

dungfungus said :

“Two people have been locked up for ten years and are about to be dragged into the jungle and shot.”
In order to eliminate the contributor’s chosen emotive statement, I have done some sub-editing to restore the facts.
“Two convicted drug couriers, one of whom was a previous offender and a ringleader in the overall plan to smuggle heroin into Australia, were sentenced to death about 10 years ago according to well publicised Indonesian law and after exhausting all appeals to have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment they are to be transported to an Indonesian island where they will be executed by firing squad.”

That. I’d even emphasise the ‘after exhausting all appeals’ part which tends to get dropped in many conversations giving the wrong impression as if the Indonesian justice process was somehow misapplied against them.

Heavs 11:11 am 03 Mar 15

100% opposed to the death penalty. But their country, their rules.

watto23 10:44 am 03 Mar 15

I’m in two minds about it. The death penalty gets rid of the worst kind of people, but then again for those their punishment is so finite and they don’t suffer at all, while the victims and their families do suffer.

I definitely can see the complicated nature of it. I wouldn’t support introduction into Australia again though. I’m also concerned that Australians only care about the death penalty when Australians are on death row and it suits their political agenda. I think the death penalty for drug trafficking is a harsh penalty though, but understand the thinking, that drugs kill a lot of people, however the intent with drug traffickers is their own greed and not intent to harm people.

Grimm 10:39 am 03 Mar 15

Hardly a surprise what the penalty is for smuggling drugs into anywhere in SE Asia. Honestly, these are nothing but Darwin Award candidates.

As for the death penalty in general, it definitely has its place. Paedophiles for a start. Rapists right behind them. There are some people that are beyond “rehabilitation” and just don’t deserve to live at everybody elses expense. They end up getting out of gaol and re-offending continually. Just shoot them.

Dame Canberra 10:32 am 03 Mar 15

This is a really tricky issue. I oppose the death penalty as a form of punishment, and I certainly don’t agree with such a long period between sentencing and death (nor do I agree with Indonesian officials’ apparent willingness to accept bribes to downgrade the punishment from a death sentence to life imprisonment, as has been reported). It’s obviously a broken and corrupt justice system and I doubt Joko Widodo will pardon these two, as he’s already lost face over the issue and won’t want to make things worse.

On the other hand, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan knowingly smuggled drugs into a country where the punishment for getting caught is the death penalty. When you’re in another country, you play by its rules. You can’t always expect Australia to intervene when you screw up, and I think threats of withholding foreign aid in exchange for doing so is an extremely dangerous diplomatic game.

dungfungus 10:29 am 03 Mar 15

“Two people have been locked up for ten years and are about to be dragged into the jungle and shot.”
In order to eliminate the contributor’s chosen emotive statement, I have done some sub-editing to restore the facts.
“Two convicted drug couriers, one of whom was a previous offender and a ringleader in the overall plan to smuggle heroin into Australia, were sentenced to death about 10 years ago according to well publicised Indonesian law and after exhausting all appeals to have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment they are to be transported to an Indonesian island where they will be executed by firing squad.”

Garfield 10:13 am 03 Mar 15

In regards to Indonesia executing drug traffickers, I think that prohibition doesn’t work and there should be regulation and control of the industry, taking it out of the hands of organised crime. I think that needs to come with increased penalties for illegal activity, but it should still stop short of the death penalty.

In regards to the death penalty, I think that where its going to be carried out there needs to be no doubt about the guilt and it needs to happen relatively quickly. Keeping people on death row for a decade is cruel and unusual punishment as far as I’m concerned.

In regards to criminals committing acts of extreme premeditated violence, such as those who abducted, raped and murdered Anita Cobby, I’m in favour of executing them. I can’t see that society gains anything by keeping people like them alive at great cost.

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