Monday, March 15, 2010

Burying the death penalty

Last week, Australia passed a law abolishing the death penalty. Which seems odd, given that no Australian state uses it, and the last execution in Australia was in 1967. But while no Australian state currently practices state murder, there's nothing stopping them from doing so (despite Australia's ratification of the Second Option Protocol to the ICCPR), and there were concerns that a "tough on crime" state government could regress in future. The passage of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Torture Prohibition and Death Penalty Abolition) Bill 2009 effectively stops that, as state law must not be inconsistent with federal enactments.

So the death penalty is now effectively dead and buried in Australia. If only states like Tonga and Fiji would follow suit.