What does the ACT think about the death penalty?

Steven Bailey 19 April 2016 70
stock-prison-jail-criminal

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.


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70 Responses to What does the ACT think about the death penalty?
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Acton Acton 1:55 pm 03 Mar 15

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 6 (2) states: “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime.”

One opinion is that that drug smuggling is not a ‘most serious crime’, but the contrary opinion is that heroin importation and distribution is equivalent to mass murder because of the hundreds/thousands of lives it destroys and ruins. If you look at it this way then Chan and Sukumaran are mass murderers and their execution is allowable under Indonesian and international law.

There’s no easy way to put somebody to death, but if a court imposes a lawful death sentence the state needs to be efficient and effective in implementing the sentence. The US state of Utah has recently passed a bill to bring back the firing squad as the most humane form of execution. Google Utah Death Penalty Procedure Amendments. This bill provides that if substances are not available to carry out the death penalty by lethal injection, the death penalty shall be carried out by firing squad. Other US states are also reconsidering the firing squad as the most efficient way to carry out a death penalty.

Indonesia has very limited application of the death penalty compared to the US (and other countries) and death by firing squad is arguably more humane than other methods, some of which, even under expert supervision in the United States, have been botched.

bobster bobster 1:18 pm 03 Mar 15

Weatherman said :

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.

Heroin and morphine are interchangeable, medically speaking. They are the same thing. It’s the criminality around heroin that makes it the problem it is. Morphine is not a problem. You will use it at one stage in your life and so will Widodo….half the people reading this post will have or already have used morphine/heroin. So the drug is not the problem. Criminalising the drug makes it the problem.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 1:07 pm 03 Mar 15

Other people can argue about the sanctity of life, but for me the death penalty cannot be revoked, so unless we have a perfect judicial system devoid of error, it shouldn’t be used. As much as I’d like to see the Bryants and Cowans of this world get a bullet, the imperfection of our justice system convinces me that such penalties cannot be applied.

Otherwise why aren’t all penalties irreversible? Should everyone be required to complete their sentence in full irrespective of whatever evidence may come to light after sentencing? Why don’t we have we have lesser permanent physical penalties such as amputation and blinding? That would certainly help curb violent recidivists.

fernandof fernandof 12:56 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.

There are two aspects here: the first is the appeal to emotional justification, the other is the appropriateness of a death sentence for drug-related crimes.

Let’s start with the first. Justice should be impartial. If you apply nepotism / favouritism and mixing it with emotional justification to safe your friends/family, then by the same argument a rapist of my sister should get the death sentence, preferably by my lil sis to get some closure. Obviously we don’t apply this kind of biased sentencing, which in my eyes, makes your first argument a moot point.

As for the second, yes, there are a thousand things more evil than selling drugs in life, which is why Australia doesn’t execute drug dealers. Indonesia, on the other hand, does and this is an Indonesian case so an Indonesian sentence was given.

I have absolutely no issues with your passion to change the whole world’s viewpoint to stop executing drug dealers, but you won’t have my sympathy nor assistance. I believe that there are much more urgent injustices we need to deal with before employing our collective efforts to safeguard criminals whose action directly contribute to ruined lives, rape, murder and slavery. Happy to give you a top 5 urgent injustices I believe take precedence on this one, if you’re struggling to find justified causes.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back VYBerlinaV8_is_back 12:53 pm 03 Mar 15

Heavs said :

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

+1.

Says it all.

Weatherman 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Heavs 11:11 am 03 Mar 15

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

watto23 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 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 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 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 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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