Melbourne rally protests death penalty – AAP

GREG ROBERTS October 10, 2009 – 3:04PM


Anyone who thinks the death penalty does not affect Australians need only look next door to Bali, where three Australians are on death row, a rally has heard.

The death penalty should be outlawed around the world as slavery and child labour have been, the Melbourne rally heard on Saturday, the seventh World Day Against the Death Penalty.

An estimated 2,000 people heard barrister Julian Burnside, who is representing two convicted Australian drug traffickers in Bali, say capital punishment is "state sanctioned violence".

"Execution is premeditated, ritualised, state-sanctioned violence by brutalised societies," he told AAP.

"There is no crime no matter how terrible that could not be properly punished by decades in a cell."

Mr Burnside represents Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who, along with Queenslander Scott Rush, are on death row for their role in an attempt by the so-called Bali Nine to smuggle heroin in 2005.

"They are all preparing their final legal appeal documents called a `PK’, which is the final appeal in the Indonesian justice system," he said.

"If the PK is unsuccessful a person facing the death penalty has the right to appeal to the president for clemency.

"For this case we have one of Indonesia’s top lawyers, Mulya Lubis."

Jesuit priest and former prison chaplain Father Peter Norden said Australia had a responsibility to pressure other countries to abolish the death penalty.
"We do big business with those countries that still execute prisoners," he told AAP.

"We have a responsibility to raise awareness with those international students from those countries that can discuss it and think about it here in a way that they cannot do in their own country."

According to Amnesty International, more than two-thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

However, the 58 or so countries that retain it comprise more than 60 per cent of the world’s population, including the four most populous countries in the world: China (where 90 per cent of executions take place), India, the US and Indonesia.

The most infamous recent case in the US involved convicted killer and rapist Romell Broom, when executioners botched the lethal injection last month after spending more than two hours trying to find a vein.

About 6,000 state executions took place around the world in 2008.

© 2009 AAP

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