LAWFUEL – The Australia New Zealand Legal Newswire – The Australian Labor Party yesterday attacked John Howard for supporting the death penalty for the Bali bombers as it launched a campaign to stop all executions in Asia.
Four days before the fifth anniversary of the first Bali bombing, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians, Labor pledged its leadership would speak out “consistently” against the death penalty, whether for terrorists or Australian drug smugglers.
Labor has thrown the death penalty in Asia into the election campaign. Its push also comes as the Bali bombers and the Australian “Bali nine” heroin smugglers go through the final stages of their appeals on death sentences.
Labor foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland last night pledged a Labor government would start a regional campaign against state executions in countries such as China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.
Mr McClelland said Labor believed capital punishment justified “fanatical lunatics” to take lives as part of their “warped ideologies”. It would object to capital punishment in Asia with “shrewd diplomatic activism”.
Capital punishment in Asia, particularly involving Australian nationals on drug charges in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, has caused major diplomatic rifts and been a point of hot political debate in Australia.