The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, meeting in Sydney, has called on Federal Parliament to hasten the debate regarding the death penalty. The ACSJC supports the notice of motion by Chris Hayes MP, Member for Werriwa, for Australia to adopt a stronger and more consistent stance against capital punishment.

ACSJC Chairman, Bishop Christopher Saunders, said the parliamentary debate would provide an opportunity for leaders of all political parties to confirm Australia’s opposition to capital punishment and to renew efforts for the universal abolition of the death penalty.

‘Australia has already committed itself to international laws that prohibit capital punishment. To incorporate these commitments into Australian law would ensure that no jurisdiction in Australia could ever reintroduce the death penalty. It would also communicate Australia’s position more clearly in our region and around the world.

‘The ACSJC holds that a strong, principled rejection of capital punishment anywhere in the world – regardless of who the accused is or the nature of their crime – would improve Australia’s ability to protect and represent Australian citizens who are exposed to the death penalty overseas.’

In the days following the execution of the Bali bombers, Bishop Saunders said it was regrettable that Prime Minister Rudd had not spoken out against capital punishment as he had in the past. ‘Australia’s position is weakened by his silence.

‘We believe that the values upon which capital punishment is to be opposed are such that no exceptions should be made at home or abroad. Australia’s opposition to the death penalty cannot end at our national borders,’ Bishop Saunders said.