Fighting the death penalty from Australia

A seminar paper available at this link aimed to answer a frequently asked question: “We don’t have the death penalty in Australia. Why is the death penalty relevant to me?”

One answer to the question is that Australians travel overseas. Australians do silly things including when they are overseas. One day, someone you know may be faced with the death penalty. As a lawyer, you may face a request from a friend of a friend for a basic level of legal assistance in respect of the capital charge which has been brought against them. You never know when the death penalty is going to intrude into your life.

Another answer to the question has a touch of John Donne about it. No man is an island. Don’t send to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. While the death penalty is being exercised against anyone in the world, it is an affront to us as human beings. Especially, it is an affront to us as human rights lawyers. Of course, it is relevant to each and everyone of us.

The long answer is just a recounting of my story. And, in recounting my story, I hope to suggest a few things that I found interesting: things that you may also find interesting. And I will mention things that we can do in Australia to fight the death penalty both in individual cases and at the level moratoria and abolition.

And, maybe, one or two of you may find some of this interesting enough to get involved in the fight against the death penalty at some time in some way.

Stephen Keim SC

Patron of Australians Against Capital Punishment

Chair of the Capital Punishment Justice Project

6 August 2022