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November 11 2008 | AUSTRALIA

Government to promote new worldwide campaign against death penalty

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Australia to seek UN resolution against executions

By James Grubel CANBERRA, Nov 10 - Australia will push for a new United Nations resolution against the death penalty, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said on Monday, following Indonesia's weekend execution of three men for the 2002 Bali bombings.

Human rights lawyers said Australia may have hurt its campaign by not speaking forcefully against capital punishment ahead of the Indonesia executions.

"I think it would have been better for us to stand up more clearly, and speak more firmly and loudly in the region prior to the execution," human rights lawyer Julian McMahon told Australian radio. Three Indonesian men -- Imam Samudra, Mukhlas, and Amrozi -- were shot dead by firing squad on Sunday morning. They had been sentenced to death for the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians.

The death penalty was officially outlawed across all Australian states in 1984. But the last execution in the country was in 1967, when Ronald Ryan was hanged in Melbourne for shooting dead a guard during a prison escape.

Three Australians, Scott Rush, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, remain on death row in Indonesia after being convicted for drug smuggling. Australia has said it will seek clemency if legal processes do not spare their lives.

Smith told Australia's parliament on Monday that the government co-sponsored a resolution in 2007 at the United Nations urging a moratorium on capital punishment, and would support a new resolution later this year.

"Internationally, Australia supports the abolition of the death penalty as a form of punishment," Smith said.

Australian National University law professor Don Rothwell said the move should generate new dialogue across the region, particularly with New Zealand, the Philippines and East Timor also opposed to the death penalty.

"Legally and diplomatically, the time would seem to be right for Australia to take forward this type of initiative," Rothwell told Reuters.

He said for Australia's position on the death penalty to be credible, it needed to make its point consistently with neighbouring countries, as well as China and the United States, which still have capital punishment.

McMahon, who helped defend Australian drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van, executed in Singapore in 2005, said he welcomed Smith's commitment to a new U.N resolution.

But he said Australia had a right to speak out against the execution of the Bali bombers, because Australians were victims of the bombings.

"The response after the execution is exactly what I would have hoped for," McMahon told Australian Broadcasting Corp.


"I just think we should have been doing it consistently, rather than just after the execution." (Editing by Jerry Norton)




SYDNEY, 10 NOV - L'Australia guidera' una nuova campagna contro la pena di morte. Lo ha annunciato il ministro degli Esteri, Stephen Smith, dopo la fucilazione sabato scorso in Indonesia di tre militanti islamici condannati per gli attentati nell'isola turistica di Bali, che nell'ottobre 2002 uccisero 202 persone fra cui 88 australiani.

Smith ha dichiarato di non provare ''altro che disprezzo'' per gli attentatori, ma ha aggiunto che quella di promuovere l'abolizione della pena capitale e' una posizione australiana bipartisan di lunga data. Il ministro ha ricordato che il suo governo e' stato fra i promotori della risoluzione Onu del 2007 per una moratoria sulla pena di morte e che quest'anno promuovera' una nuova risoluzione dell'Assemblea generale. Il sostegno alla posizione del governo e' stato confermato oggi dalla portavoce per gli Esteri dell'opposizione conservatrice, Helen Coonan, e dal leader dei Verdi, Bob Brown.

La sezione australiana di Amnesty International ha tuttavia criticato il governo per non aver chiesto espressamente un atto di clemenza per i tre militanti islamici, sostenendo che questo aggravera' la posizione di tre australiani gia' condannati a morte in Indonesia per traffico di droga, per i quali Canberra ha gia' annunciato di chiedere clemenza se falliranno tutte le altre vie legali.

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