Monday, December 10, 2007

Why are we supporting Tonga's death penalty?

TVNZ reports that a diplomatic row has broken out between Australia and New Zealand over prosecutions for last year's November 17 riots. New Zealand police and lawyers ahve been helping the Tongan government to bring charges for the riots, but they are being stymied in their attempts by Australia's refusal to release autopsy and fire investigation reports. Why are the Australians refusing?

the Australian government will not release the reports its police did for the Tongan government on the grounds that the accused could get the death penalty if found guilty.
Sounds like a very good reason to me - and one we should be wholeheartedly supporting. New Zealand hasn't just abolished the death penalty - like most other civilised countries, we also refuse to extradite in capital cases unless the death penalty is taken off the table (just as we will refuse to extradite or deport people where there is a risk that they will be tortured). This ban should also extend to other forms of legal assistance: we simply should not be helping other countries murder people, "lawfully" or otherwise (arguably this is already required by the BORA, given the breadth of its application clause and its affirmation of the right not to be deprived of life).

As for the Tongans, if they want to prosecute this case, all they have to do is satisfy the Australians that the death penalty will not be imposed. That's their general position anyway - they're de-facto abolitionists, and haven't murdered anyone since 1981 - so I wouldn't expect it to be that difficult. If OTOH they seriously want to murder people for the riots, then fuck them.