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Murderers Loose In Washington DC

Press Release: Princes St (Auckland University) Branch, New Zealand Labour Party

"We totally condemn the United States government for the recent execution of Timothy McVeigh" said Michael Wood, Chairperson of the Princes St (Auckland University) Branch of the New Zealand Labour Party.

"The issue here has nothing to do with the hideous crime that McVeigh committed. It was a criminal act that no reasonable person would expect to go unpunished. Instead, the pertinent issue is whether the state, under any circumstances should have the right to forcibly extinguish the most precious right that any of us have, that being the right to life. We contest that no individual, court, or state ought to have the authority to deprive any citizen of this most fundamental of rights" said Wood.

"Yet last year alone, the US government killed eighty-five of its own people. What's more, three thousand seven hundred more people are presently waiting on death row in the 'land of free'. Even if they could put up a morally defensible argument for the death penalty, would pro-execution leaders such as President Bush be prepared to personally guarantee that every single one of these people is one hundred percent guilty of the crime they are accused of? Surely, the prospect of even one innocent person, one Arthur Allan-Thomas, dying at the hands of the state should be too much for hard-liners such as Mr. Bush to defend. " says Simon Randall, Vice-Chairperson of the Branch

"You would at least think that such a drastic punishment would exist for some good reason - but it doesn't. Studies commissioned by the United Nations show that there is no evidence that capital punishment discourages violent crime.* Frankly, the death penalty is just an easy way to satisfy people's immediate desire for vengeance, without having to look at the real causes of violent crime. The USA's rampant culture of violence, perpetuated in particular by the easy availability of fire arms, are issues that should be tackled before more lives, including those of fourteen school aged kids since 1990, are taken by the State in the name of justice" says Wood.

"The USA likes to think of itself as a world leader in human rights. Until they join the majority of countries who have outlawed capital punishment, that claim is an international joke. It is particularly galling that leaders such as President Bush think that taxes are an infringement on individual freedom, but have no qualms about taking away the individuals right to life." says Randall

"When Phil Goff recently went to China, many New Zealanders were very keen that he raise the issue of human rights abuses with their government. Capital Punishment is a human rights violation according to the UN's Optional Protocol to the ICCPR (International Covenant for Civil and Political rights), and is abhorrent to many New Zealanders. That given, we strongly urge the government to raise the issue of capital punishment with the USA at diplomatic level" says Wood.

*1996 UN study, reference: Roger Hood, The Death Penalty: A World-wide Perspective, Oxford, Clarendon Press, revised edition, 1996, p. 238, paragraph 328

ENDS

Michael Wood - 09-845-5242, michael@semrits.co.nz

Simon Randall - 09-636-8148, or 021 262 8082, srandall@ihug.co.nz

Michael Wood Chair, Princes St (Auckland University Branch), NZLP

537 New North Rd Kingsland AUCKLAND

ph/fax: 09-845-5242 icq: 53056259


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