The Right to Life, the Death Penalty and Human Rights Law: An International and Australian Perspective

CONFRONTING THE DEATH PENALTY PEOPLE, POLITICS AND PRINCIPLE, pp. 26-45, ACSJC, 2007

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2007-66

20 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2009

See all articles by Andrew C. Byrnes

Andrew C. Byrnes

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: November 20, 2007

Abstract

Despite the formal or de facto abolition of capital punishment in many countries, its continued use in a significant number of nations, particularly in our own region, continues to be controversial on moral, political, legal and pragmatic grounds. It also gives rise to challenges for Australia's engagement and collaboration in law enforcement activities with our near neighbours.

Part 1 of this article provides an overview of the extent of capital punishment in today's world, identifying those countries that retain the death penalty and discussing the number of death sentences imposed and carried out in those countries. Part 2 briefly reviews the principal arguments for and against capital punishment. Part 3 summarises the international law on capital punishment, describing the trend toward its abolition and the significant restrictions under international law on its imposition, even when it is still permissible for a state to impose it. Part 4 briefly discusses the death penalty in Australian law and Australia's international obligations in relation to the death penalty. Part 5 considers some of the complications that arise for Australian authorities in criminal law enforcement cooperation with countries which retain the death penalty. Part 6 examines the approach of the current Australian Government to the death penalty abroad, and the apparent inconsistencies that have emerged in recent years.

Keywords: Human Rights Law

Suggested Citation

Byrnes, Andrew C., The Right to Life, the Death Penalty and Human Rights Law: An International and Australian Perspective (November 20, 2007). CONFRONTING THE DEATH PENALTY PEOPLE, POLITICS AND PRINCIPLE, pp. 26-45, ACSJC, 2007; UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2007-66. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1366566

Andrew C. Byrnes (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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