SYDNEY – The Catholic Church is stepping up its pressure on the Australian federal government to ensure that it maintain consistency in opposing the use of the death penalty, regardless of who is being executed.
After the launching a paper on the death penalty, the chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders, stressed the document's timeliness as a number of the "Bali Nine" face execution.
Of the nine Australian citizens arrested on Apr. 17, 2005, in Bali, Indonesia, for attempting to smuggle 4-million (Australian) dollars-worth of heroine from Indonesia to Australia, only five have had their sentences reduced from life imprisonment to a 20-year sentence upon appeal.
Saunders argued that people should oppose the death penalty because every person, regardless of their citizenship, shares a fundamental right to life.
"Our opposition to capital punishment cannot end at our national borders. The dignity and sanctity of all human life must be respected in all circumstances. Every person, whatever their citizenship, shares the most fundamental right – the right to life," he said.
The inconsistency displayed by the previous Coalition and the current federal Labor government was evident in their defense of certain convicted criminals when they were facing the death penalty, Saunders argued.
He pointed to the Coalition and Labor parties who were unequivocal in pleading with the Singapore Government to spare the life of drug trafficker Van Nguyen from execution while taking the opposite approach to the execution of the Bali smugglers.
Saunders urged the Australian government to work ardently with neighboring countries to abolish the death penalty.