"Labor believes that supporting executions – even by a nation state – gives justification to all kinds of fanatical lunatics to take the lives of others in pursuit of their own warped ideologies. That is why, at the highest levels Australia’s public comments about the death penalty must be consistent with policy. This is especially the case if we are going to tactfully and successfully drive a regional abolitionist movement."
- Robert McClelland, Wentworth Human Rights Forum, 8.10.07
Saddam Hussein was killed today. He was put to death by hanging at the direction of the Iraqi Government following a trial for one of his lesser alleged crimes against humanity. His death means that other, even more serious, charges against him will never be brought to account - notably the use of chemical weapons against Kurds in 1988. Likewise, the complicity of governments friendly to Iraq prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait will be more difficult to explore.
I can never understand how, if the taking of human life is such a heinous crime, the punishment can be the taking of human life. I have no sympathy for Saddam Hussein over his actions across the past forty years. But he should have been locked away for the term of his natural life.
I certainly have no sympathy for Saddam Hussein. But he should not be executed for his crimes. No more and no less than any other human being.
Why, in any case, should anyone's monumental lack of respect for human life be even partly condoned through the state-organised termination of his?
One can only hope that further charges of crimes against humanity continue to be heard against Hussein, especially with regard to the chemical weapon attack on Kurds in 1988.
JANE HUTCHEON [ABC radio]: Am I correct in saying that Friday, is that the Prime Minister's Cricket 11 match that's going to go ahead?
JOHN HOWARD: Yes, the game against the West Indies, yes.
JANE HUTCHEON: And that's on Friday…
JOHN HOWARD: Yes, yes.
JANE HUTCHEON: …the same day that Van Nguyen is going to be executed…
JOHN HOWARD: Yes.
JANE HUTCHEON: Do you think it would be sensitive to see you attending that cricket match?