Centacare Melbourne urges Govt to save Nguyen

An agency of the Catholic Church is urging the Federal Government to maintain pressure on Singapore to give convicted drug trafficker Tuong Van Nguyen a reprieve against his death sentence.

CLICK HEREThe ABC reports that Melbourne Centacare Catholic Family Services spokesman Denis Fitzgerald says Nguyen's sentence should be commuted to a prison term.

"He has the rights of all of us as human beings, he still has the dignity of a human being and he can play his part now, as he has been since the arrest, in building a better world. There would be no point in hanging him," he said.

Mr Fitzgerald says the Church has been offering support to Mr Nguyen's Melbourne-based mother.

"Her distress goes way back. The family has suffered enormously and it would be futile now for that to be compounded by the Government of Singapore," he said.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is not optimistic the Singapore Government will give a reprieve. Mr Downer has written to his Singaporean counterpart in a last ditch attempt to save Nguyen's life.

"I can't mislead people, I can't say that I undertake this exercise with a great degree of optimism," he said. "But nevertheless I just would like to keep trying."

Meanwhile Nguyen's old school - St Ignatius Catholic Primary School in Richmond - has issued a statement of support for the convicted drug trafficker's right to life.

Parish Priest Fr Peter Norden SJ reported yesterday that the school community and the parish community are strongly in support of efforts by Nguyen's lawyers to bring about an appeal against the death penalty imposed by the Singapore courts.

"We have a belief in the sacredness of ALL human life" explained Fr Peter Norden. "Taking a human life as a form of punishment simply devalues human life and the institutions that impose such a penalty, regardless of the circumstances".

Right To Life campaigner, Margaret Tighe joined the Richmond parish in calling for the protection of the life of Nguyen, now aged 25 and waiting on "death row" in Changi Prison.

"All human life is sacred and punishment should never extend to the taking of a human life" she explained.

Fr Norden has visited death rows in several overseas countries and knows the futility of the imposition of the death penalty.

"Mr Nguyen has cooperated with authorities and is deserving of clemency by a reduction in sentence, as specifically allowed for in the Constitution of Singapore" he insisted.

"His personal circumstances should also be considered: as the son of a Vietnamese refugee, he was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. He may be deserving of punishment, but not the loss of his life" Fr Norden concluded.

Catholic agency urges Govt to save Nguyen (ABC Melbourne 27/10/05)
Former school stands by "the right to life" for Tuong Van Nguyen (St Ignatius Richmond / Right to Life 27/10/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Centacare Melbourne
Catholic Parish of St Ignatius, Richmond

Papal intervention for death row drug trafficker (CathNews 25/10/05)

Catholic church in Melbourne calls for stop to execution (Centacare Melbourne 27/10/05)
Singapore: Urge authorities to stop the execution of Van Tuong Nguyen (Amnesty International Australia 27/10/05)
No mercy for young Aussie (Daily Telegraph 28/10/05)
Pope says committed to good relations with Jews (Leading the Charge 27/10/05)

28 Oct 2005