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Law Council of Australia


The death penalty and criminal justice in Asia

Speech delivered by Morry Bailes, past-President of the Law Council of Australia at International Bar Association 2019 Annual Conference, Seoul. 

"Australia’s last execution took place in February 1967.

Six years later, our Federal Parliament passed the Death Penalty Abolition Act 1973. Despite this Act, the death penalty remained in force in some parts of Australia. New South Wales was the last Australian state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes in 1985.

However, it may surprise many of you that it was not until April 2010 that the Australian Parliament amended the Death Penalty Prohibition Act to finally ensure that the death penalty could not be re-established in Australia.

Our own experience is that abolition is a slow and sometimes piecemeal process.

It is also the Australian experience that leadership is critical to the successful abolition of the death penalty and maintaining abolition in the face of public calls for severe punishments.

We see the importance of leadership in the public response to death sentences passed overseas in relation to crimes involving Australians."

You can read the full speech below.


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