Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Human Rights Council - 18th Regular Session Item 3

Australian statement on the death penalty

15 September

We welcome the report of the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty. Australia supports the universal abolition of the death penalty, an inhumane form of punishment which violates the most fundamental human right - the right to life.

While the death penalty has long been abolished in all Australian jurisdictions, in March 2010 the Commonwealth Parliament passed legislation to ensure that it cannot be reintroduced anywhere in Australia. This amendment demonstrates Australia’s continued commitment to universal abolition of the death penalty.

Australia recognises the crucial role of the Human Rights Council – including through its Universal Periodic Review mechanism and special procedures, as well as those of human rights treaty bodies – in monitoring international trends towards the abolition of the death penalty and providing appropriate guidance to States on this important issue.

While we acknowledge and welcome the fact that both China and The Gambia have removed the death penalty for some offences, we are concerned by indications in the Secretary-General’s report that China and The Gambia, as well as Iran, have introduced the death penalty for new offences.

We commend Gabon and Djibouti for their decision to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and we welcome Kyrgyzstan’s decision to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Australia continues to encourage all States to abolish the death penalty in accordance with the Second Optional Protocol.

In 2010, Australia, through its overseas missions, made representations against the death penalty to all countries that carry out executions or maintain capital punishment as part of their law.

We also continue to advance our opposition to the death penalty through United Nations mechanisms, including during the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council and through support for the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty.