PO Box L23 South Maroubra NSW
Ph/fax +61 2 9311 0159
IMMEDIATE – March
Prime Minister should focus on saving lives not taking them
The Human Rights Council of Australia today accused the
Prime Minister Mr Howard of hypocrisy for answering
hypothetical questions to advocate executing Osama
bin Laden while refusing to answer real questions about Australia’s participation in any war against Iraq. The Council challenged the Prime
Minister to release international law advice given to the Government in
relation to Australia’s inevitable involvement in any United States war against Iraq.
“The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, is
dodging the real questions about Australia’s involvement with the United States in a war against Iraq.
He has not explained why Australia must invade Iraq now. He has not provided the legal
advice behind his decision to go to war – the ‘legal niceties’ as he has called
it. He has not outlined his efforts for peace or to save civilian lives.
Instead he seems pleased to talk hypothetically about killing,” Chris Sidoti, National Spokesperson for the Human Rights Council
Appearing on the US Fox TV network on Friday, Mr Howard answered a hypothetical question about his views
on executing Osama bin Laden if he were captured. He
repeated his views on Australian television today. But the Prime Minister has
refused to answer questions on Australia’s involvement in war against Iraq without the approval of the
Security Council on the grounds that such questions are hypothetical.
said, “Catching Osama bin Laden is a hypothetical
situation. Sending Australian troops to war is not. They have already been deployed. The
Australian Government is poised to join the United States in a war against Iraq without United Nations approval. It
must release for public scrutiny and debate the international law advice it has
undoubtedly received about the legality of Australian involvement.
“The Prime Minister’s latest repudiation of Australia’s human rights promises makes us
fear the worst. This is a Prime Minister eager to overturn thirty years of
bipartisan Australian opposition to the death penalty, to break the solemn
promises successive Australian Governments have made. He knows that Australia has been leading international
efforts to abolish the death penalty. That is the official position he should
represent, whatever his personal prejudices. It must be an act of desperation
to choose now to become the first mainstream Australian political leader to
voice support for the death penalty in three decades. He is seeking to divert
attention from the Government’s unequivocal support for an unpopular, unlawful
For further information and comment please
Chris Sidoti – 02 9773 9441 /
0414 467 784
Patrick Earle – 02 9311 0159 / 0401 932 196