Federal police have put more than one person at risk of the death penalty every day for the past five years by co-operating with police forces in countries, mainly in Asia, that execute offenders.
The vast majority of the 1847 people whose names were provided to foreign police forces were being investigated for drug offences in countries where the death penalty is widely imposed and sometimes applied.
The figure is much higher than previously reported, and will shock many who were dismayed by the April executions of Bali nine drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin assured Australians after their executions that "organisationally" and "personally", the police opposed the death penalty, and that the AFP tightly manages the number of reports made to foreign jurisdictions.
But official police figures released under freedom-of-information laws to researcher Sarah Gill show that between December 2009 and December 2014, more than 370 people a year were reported to death penalty jurisdictions. More than 95 per cent of these referrals were for drug cases.
Not all of these people are Australian citizens and residents – and police do not collect those figures – but the number of Australians is likely to amount to hundreds over the years. The figures show that, despite guidelines introduced in 2009, police grant about 93 per cent or more of requests for help from police forces in death penalty countries. Where the requests are turned down, it is usually for bureaucratic reasons – for example, because forms are filled out incorrectly – rather than because of the danger to an individual.
Guidelines introduced in 2009 after the outcry relating to the Bali nine case require police to consider the likelihood of the person being subject to the death penalty when co-operating with a foreign police force. However, that is just one among many considerations, including Australia's interest in promoting co-operation with foreign authorities.
A dozen Australians, including two grandmothers, are on death row, including nine in China, where they are among 26 in custody in that country on drug charges. Police have said in the past that none of the 12 on death row were there because of AFP intervention.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Michael Bachelard, September 7, 2015
Names of nearly 2000 drug suspects handed over
Australian Federal Police defend referring a bulky list of names to foreign agencies.
1 of the lawyers for 2 men executed in Bali in April has called for independent monitoring of the names of criminal suspects referred to death penalty jurisdictions.
Julian McMahon, who represented Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, said an independent regulator should be established to oversee who was referred to foreign police by the Australian Federal Police.
The call came as Fairfax Media revealed the AFP shared the names of 1847 suspects with foreign agencies between 2009 and 2014.
About 95 % were for drug offences, risking death in countries where execution was imposed as a penalty.
"International co-operation is an essential part of the AFP doing their job to combat serious crime, and they must be able to continue to do that," Mr McMahon told The Age.
"But, where it's a matter of life and death, there is a very heavy burden of responsibility on the AFP and our government to act in accordance with our national policy to oppose the death penalty, torture and so on.
"Where so many lives may be at risk because of positive steps taken by a busy police force, an independent monitor or a review mechanism is in everybody's interest."
An AFP spokesperson said the agency's work with law enforcement agencies in other countries had been "very successful" in solving crime.
"The AFP cannot limit its co-operation to countries that have similar legal systems as Australia ... [and] without the ability to work with all of its international partners, the AFP simply could not function," the spokesperson said.
Following the execution of Bali nine drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the agency opposed the death penalty and carefully managed the number of reports made to foreign police.
"A dozen Australians, including 2 grandmothers, are on death row, including nine in China, where they are among 26 in custody in that country on drug charges," The Age reported.
"Police have said in the past that none of the 12 on death row were there because of AFP intervention."
Source: The New Daily, September 7, 2015
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