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Reprieve Australia to Attend World Congress

Reprieve Australia will be in attendance at the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Oslo, Norway, from June 22-24, 2016. Held once every three years, the Congress brings together government representatives, lawyers, NGOs, and activists working on death penalty abolition from all over the world.

The Congress presents an important opportunity for practitioners to share expertise and updates, and to build lasting coalitions across regions and the globe. Reprieve Australia president Julian McMahon will be speaking on legal representation for death row inmates, as well as an event on drug crime and the death penalty in China.

ABC Event on Human Rights 

In a special ABC event, four 2016 Australians of the Year were gathered on stage in front of a live audience at the Sydney Town Hall for a discussion on human rights. Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission gave opening remarks before Julia Baird led the discussion with Nic Marchesi, Julian McMahon, David Morrison AO, and Elizabeth Broderick AO. The event covered a wide range of topics including the death penalty. Watch the program here.
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Public Outreach to Schools

On May 16, 2016, Reprieve Australia board member Veronica Haccou spoke to 150 secondary students from seven schools from North East Victoria and Southern New South Wales: Myrtleford College, Benalla College, Bright College, James Fallon High School, Marion College, Wodonga Senior, and Albury High School.

Veronica spoke about her experience representing Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, as well as the ethical and legal issues surrounding the death penalty. The event was made possible by a grant from the Victoria Law Foundation.

RA at the ASEAN Literary Festival

Earlier this month, Julian McMahon spoke at the Third ASEAN Literary Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia, in two headlining events. He shared the stage with lawyer and colleague Dr Todung Mulya Lubis, who discussed the need for abolitionists to engage the Islamic community in Indonesia. The Jakarta Post also covered Julian’s public speech on the impact of literature on the struggle for justice and improving the rule of law. Watch an excerpt of the recording.

Spotlight on Volunteers

In 2015 Reprieve Australia awarded the Sir Rupert Hamer Fellowship to Melbourne lawyer Jessica Salafia, who is currently back in New Orleans to volunteer at the Capital Appeals Project. The competitive merit-based Fellowship awards a small bursary to former volunteers to extend or undertake a subsequent placement at a U.S. capital defense office. As Jessica says:
"Fighting for the rights of those facing execution is a truly rewarding experience and one of which I am very proud. The Hamer Fellowship reinforces the importance of working for justice and reminds us that we can effect change. Thank you to the hardworking and dedicated teams at Reprieve Australia and the Capital Appeals Project for your continued support and inspiration." 

Reprieve Australia in the News

  • Two Reprieve Australia board members, Alex Wilson and Veronica Haccou, received the Law Institute of Victoria’s Access to Justice Award for going “beyond the call of duty in the service they provide to their clients and to the community.” Reprieve Australia congratulates Alex Wilson and Veronica Haccou on their joint award, and thanks them for their invaluable contributions. 
  • Monash University’s Faculty of Law recently profiled Julian McMahon, a 1998 LLM graduate, on his work on death penalty abolition through Reprieve Australia. He spoke about some of the positive developments and challenges in anti-death penalty advocacy, as well as how Australia has emerged to become a leading voice on the topic.   
  • The Bendigo Advertiser highlighted Julian McMahon’s comments at the “Talking Justice” event at the Ulumbarra Theatre, where he appeared alongside Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass, and  Federal Circuit Court judge Judy Small to discuss criminal justice issues.


  • 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, Oslo, Norway – June 22-24, 2016. It’s not too late to register! The Congress takes place every three years, and is an important event for death penalty abolitionists to engage in information exchange and to build professional relationships. There will be 1,300 participants from over 80 countries in attendance. Sign up here.
  • 16th John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Annual Lecture, Curtin University, Perth, WA – June 29, 2016. Reprieve Australia vice-president Sally Warhaft will give a public lecture on “Curtin’s Call: What our 14th Prime Minister would make of the Federal election campaign,” with an introduction by the Honourable Julia Gillard. Former speakers at the Anniversary Event include Paul Keating, Malcolm Fraser, and Kim Beazley. 
  • 50th Anniversary of the Execution of Ronald Ryan, Melbourne, VIC – February 3, 2017. SAVE THE DATE! Reprieve Australia will be commemorating the execution of Ronald Ryan, the last person to be legally executed in Australia, with a public event in Melbourne.  

News and developments

We previously reported on the executions in Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Since then, executions have continued in the Asia-Pacific region in Singapore, China, and Pakistan, as well as in in large numbers in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Malaysian national Kho Jabing was executed by Singapore on May 16, 2016 after being temporarily granted a stay of execution at the eleventh hour. Advocates in Singapore led the charge to save Kho, with many regional organisations including Reprieve Australia actively assisting the case. A joint public statement was issued calling for the imminent executions in Singapore and Indonesia to be halted.  
The Philippines’ president-elect, Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to bring back the death penalty once he takes office, and to kill suspected criminals. Duterte pledges that “I do not want to commit a crime but…watch out. The 1,000 (I allegedly killed) will become 100,000. That will fatten the fish in Manila Bay. I will dump their bodies there.” The death penalty had previously been abolished in the Philippines in 2006 under President Gloria Arroyo.
The Philippines' Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) issued a public statement in response arguing that Duterte’s proposals were "illegal and unconstitutional,” and would "blatantly violate international law." Duterte has also urged the public to take matters into their own hands by offering large bounties for the extrajudicial killing of criminals. Within days, five men were found shot and killed by vigilantes.
Speculations about impending executions in Indonesia dragged on for weeks until the latest announcements stated that executions will take place after Ramadan. No official lists have been released to the public. It is apparently the intention of the Indonesian government to avoid media attention and scrutiny concerning this cases.
In less than five months, Saudi Arabia has executed 95 people, the latest being Nigerian national Fahd Houssawi. Yet despite these astonishing statistics, Iran has an even worse record, having executed 32 people over two days in mid-May. Iran is also the largest executor of children globally, having executed girls as young as nine, and boys as young as fifteen.
At the end of May three men were very controversially executed in Gaza in the first executions since 2014. In Israel, some senior figures are discussing introducing the death penalty for Palestinian militants.  
In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a death penalty ruling against African-American Timothy Tyrone Foster in a 7-1 decision, citing racial bias. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that prosecutors actively sought to eliminate prospective black jurors by marking ‘B’ against their names and highlighting their names for elimination. This Guardian article on the topic also cites Reprieve Australia’s Blackstrikes report, which revealed systematic racial bias in jury selection in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish.
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