RAA_open_letter_Dec2020_final.pdf (324.59 kB)
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Australia- Japan RAA and the death penalty: open letter to the Australian Government Dec2020_final.pdf

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posted on 14.12.2020, 04:41 authored by Mai SatoMai Sato, Eleos Justice

The in principle signing of the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Australia and Japan was reported as a big milestone in the two countries’ bilateral relationship. This agreement will allow the Japanese Self Defence Force and the Australian Defence Force to carry out joint exercises, training, and stationing of foreign military personnel within the host country.

However, there has been no public guarantee to date that Australian military personnel would not be subject to the death penalty in Japan. It was reported that the governments agreed to work towards a final agreement and resolve the death penalty issue on a ‘case by case’ basis. This approach would be a clear breach of the Australian government’s 2018 Strategy for Abolition of the Death Penalty if members of the Australian Defence Force could be executed in some cases, even if there was some kind of implicit understanding that this will not transpire.

Eleos Justice, Capital Punishment Justice Project and Professor Donald Rothwell (ANU College of Law) drafted this open letter to urge the Australian government 1) to enter into an RAA only if there is a clear legally binding commitment that members of the Australia Defence Force will not face the death penalty in Japan, and 2) to ensure that the official statements and dialogues reinforce Australia’s principled position against the death penalty.