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Australia's strategy for abolition of the death penalty

14 Jun 2018

All jurisdictions in Australia abolished the death penalty by 1985. In 2010, the federal government passed legislation that prohibited the reintroduction of capital punishment. Abolition of the death penalty has broad bipartisan political support.

Reflecting our commitment to universal human rights, we believe as a matter of principle that the death penalty has no place in the modern world. It brutalizes human society, is degrading, and is an affront to human dignity.

In particular, we oppose the death penalty because:

  • it is irrevocable, miscarriages of justice cannot be rectified, and no legal system is safe from error;
  • it denies any possibility of rehabilitation to the convicted individual;
  • there is no convincing evidence that it is a more effective deterrent than long-term or life imprisonment; and
  • it is unfair – it is used disproportionately against the poor, people with intellectual or mental disabilities and minority groups.

The international trend is strongly in favour of global abolition – we want this to continue. Australia will be a leader in efforts to end use of the death penalty worldwide.

Australia’s commitment to human rights is enduring. As long as people face execution by a government, we will pursue abolition of the death penalty.

The death penalty affects Australians. A number of Australian citizens and long-term residents have been sentenced to death, some have been executed, and others await trial for crimes which may carry the death penalty.

The death penalty affects our cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies and our provision of police or other justice and security assistance in countries that retain the death penalty. For example, we cannot extradite an individual to a country where the offence concerned is punishable by death. An exception may apply when the foreign government requesting assistance gives a credible and reliable diplomatic assurance stating that the death penalty will not be imposed or, if it is imposed, that it will not be carried out.

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