The quote of course is from Cardinal Ratzinger.
The stakes for the Bali 9 have just been raised – Indonesian police intend to press for the death penalty in all cases. This really raises legitimate questions about the continued co-operation of the AFP with the Indonesian authorities.
Former Labor Justice Minister and current backbench MP, Duncan Kerr made some good points on Lateline last night:
I’m not going to make a criticism of the way the Federal Police have handled this, because they obviously need to have effective working relationships with the Indonesian authorities. What I am critical of is what seems to me to be a falling away of our commitment to treating seriously Australia’s opposition to the death penalty. And we have to balance our very real security and law enforcement concerns and the way we deal with Indonesia and all other countries with a real commitment to the national policy that’s implemented in our legislation, both with respect to extradition and mutual assistance.
So, what troubles me is that in all of the discussion, the consequences don’t seem to be fully put on the table. We aren’t putting into our law enforcement discussion the consideration that we have to take into account the fact that the death penalty may well be the ultimate outcome of particular operations, and it may be that there are more effective ways consistent with law enforcement co-operation with other countries that avoids that outcome. In order to avoid the outcome, the Federal Police should have behaved differently in the case? What troubles me is it seems to me we are walking away from the fundamental commitment that the Australian Government has operated on for several decades, which means that, for example, if a country requests our assistance with extradition, extradition is refused unless either the death penalty does not exist or, if it does exist, we get an undertaking it will not be implemented.
Given that Australia’s policy of opposition to the death penalty is embodied in legislation, we need to hear some convincing answers from the Government and the AFP.
It’ll also be interesting to see whether proponents of the “Culture of Life” take up this cause, and emulate Cardinal Pell in his concern.