The Fifth Estate
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In the early hours of 29 April, the Indonesian government executed eight prisoners – including two Australians – by firing squad. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were killed despite intense diplomatic efforts, desperate legal manoeuvring and an enormous public outcry.
These executions, and the promise from Indonesia of more in the near future, have created unprecedented public interest in the death penalty. What can Australia now do to help abolish capital punishment in our region and beyond? Is a moratorium – or abolition – possible?
In a special edition of the Fifth Estate, in partnership with Reprieve Australia and its Mercy Campaign, host Sally Warhaft is joined by Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, renowned anti-death penalty jurist the Honourable Lex Lasry and Richard Bourke, Director of the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center and founder of Reprieve Australia, to discuss Australia’s role in campaigning to end the death penalty.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.
Richard Bourke is a lawyer and Director of the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, an advocacy and representation body based in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana has not executed anyone in five years, in no small part due to the efforts of the LCAC. Bourke is also the co-founder of Reprieve Australia.
Gillian Triggs is former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the new Chair of Justice Connect, a non-profit dedicated to connecting people locked out of the justice system with free legal help. She is also Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Tribunal.
Gillian has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and has advised the Australian and other governments and international organisations on international legal and trade disputes. After her tenure with the HRC ended, Gillian joined Justice Connect as Chair to pursue her commitment to ensuring that all people have a fair chance to access justice, including people experiencing homelessness, elder abuse, family violence and financial exploitation. Post-HRC, Gillian is focused on helping lawyers ‘get out of the office’ and meet people who need legal help where they live. She is also the author of many books and papers on international law, including International Law, Contemporary Principles and Practices.
The Hon. Lex Lasry is one of Australia’s most prominent barristers and jurists, and a longtime advocate of the abolition of the death penalty.
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This long-running series is a mainstay of the Wheeler Centre’s programme, and of public conversation in Melbourne. Twice a month, our in-house news anchor Sally Warhaft hosts guests from the world of politics, culture, journalism and international relations to dissect pressing questions of policy, power and public affairs. It's free, it's fortnightly and it's a chance to give complex local and global issues the thoughtful discussion they deserve.
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