Read another response by Thomas Pogge
Read another response about Ethics, Law
Hello I am an Australian and there is a lot of anger here at the moment: an Australian citizen was caught transporting drugs in a different country, where that offence carries the death penalty. The person in question is about to be hung. In Australia, the man would have faced a jail term, but here the death penalty seems far too excessive for the crime. The government of the country about to execute the man claims it is doing so in the interests of its citizens; seeking to protect them from illegal drug trafficking by showing strong intolerance to it. Many people here are angry because the man was only a drug mule: a naive person tricked (or blackmailed) into carrying a package of white powder for powerful drug organisations: key figures in which seem immune to law even though they seem to be the real villains. In another recent case, an Australian citizen travelled to another nearby country, with which Australia enjoys friendly relations. This man did something there that would be completely legal and morally unexceptional in Australia: he had consensual sex with an another man, a citizen of the other country. The Australian was sentenced to years imprisonment: the judge on the case making statements that sound extremely draconian from an Australian perspective. Does any country have the right to demand of another country how it should treat citizens of that first country? It seems that most want to say of some things: 'That is not acceptable treatment of individuals by governments, by any standards', yet where, exactly can we draw the line between 'universal' ethics (decided by whom?) and what is the prerogative of individual countries?