"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Sunday, September 20, 2015

International death penalty experts calls for NZ to toughen its death penalty opposition

Australian lawyer and death penalty expert Julian McMahon, who represented executed members of the Bali nine, is urging the New Zealand Government to do more to abolish the death penalty.

Two leading Australian death penalty experts have arrived in New Zealand in a bid to persuade the Government to toughen its stance against the practice in foreign countries.

Julian McMahon, the lawyer who represented executed Bali nine ring leaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, and Reprieve Australia vice president Ursula Noye will meet with Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, members of Parliament, and Government officials this week.

They will also take part in a public seminar about the issue at Te Papa at 5pm on Monday, at the invitation of the New Zealand Drug Foundation and Amnesty International.

The call for New Zealand to boost its opposition of the death penalty came after Kiwi Anthony de Malmanche faced that prospect for trafficking methamphetamine into Indonesia last December.

New Zealand-Australia dual citizen Peter Gardner is still at risk of being put to death for allegedly smuggling drugs out China in November.

De Malmanche's life was spared but he received a 15-year jail sentence.

McMahon said on Sunday New Zealand "absolutely" had the capacity to do more in ending the death penalty.

"New Zealand is ideally positioned to provide continued and sustained principled leadership in this important debate."

New Zealand was well-respected internationally and had a seat at the United Nations Security Council table. It could also discuss the death penalty during trading negotiations with its partners and when sending aid, he said.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said the government's condemnation of the recent Indonesia executions was welcome, but it was silent on the many executions conducted by the United States, Saudi Arabia, China, and new trading partner Iran.

New Zealand shouldn't sit back and wait until another one of its citizens was facing a possible execution, he said.

Speaking as United Future leader, Dunne said on Sunday the death penalty was "despicable" and New Zealand should throw its weight around at the UN Security Council to push for its abolition.

There needed to be a consistent campaign, rather than raising the issue only when a high-profile execution loomed, he said.

"It's all very well and good when a case like the Bali nine arrives but frankly, it's a little too late at that point."

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the minister was on his way to New York on Sunday and was unavailable for comment.

However, in response to the executions of the Bali nine members and other prisoners in April, McCully said New Zealand was strongly opposed to the death penalty in all cases under all circumstances.

Source: stuff.co.nz, Neil Rattley, Sept. 20, 2015

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