Australia: cruelty of death penalty

As part of a wide spread national campaign, efforts to persuade Singapore to spare the life of Van Tuong Nguyen, an Australian condemned to death for drug smuggling, continued until the scheduled time of his execution on December 1, 2005. Nguyen was arrested at Singapore Airport three years ago for carrying almost 400 grams of heroin, which he did, so he told the police, to help pay the debts of his brother. Australia?s Catholic bishops appealed directly to the Prime Minister of Singapore. The parish priest of Nguyen?s former Melbourne parish and a former prison chaplain, Fr Peter Norden SJ, has attacked capital punishment – ?the practice of taking the life of a citizen in order to uphold the value of human life?- as irrational. In an article in the Jesuit magazine Eureka Street, Fr Norden said Singapore regularly executed its own citizens and foreign nationals alike. According to him, ?Singapore, which presents itself as a modern civilised state, kills by hanging several times a year, and has one of the highest rates of executions in the world, behind Kuwait, China and Iran?. Fr Peter Norden SJ is policy director of Jesuit Social Services,