This piece was first published by the ABC's The Drum.
Despite concerted and commendable recent efforts by our current Government, two young men - Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran - have been executed in Indonesia. Australia didn't pull the trigger, but we should take a long, hard look at the extent to which our actions over recent years contributed to someone else doing so.
First, Chan and Sukumaran were only arrested in Indonesia because the Australian Federal Police tipped off their Indonesian counterparts. The AFP knew the men were planning to smuggle drugs into Australia. It could have arrested them on arrival here. It chose not to. As a direct consequence of that decision, Chan and Sukumaran were arrested, tried and convicted in a country which executed them instead of one that wouldn't.
The law which authorised the AFP to provide this information to Indonesian police - the Australian Federal Police Act - still exists. Unlike other laws regulating our cooperation with the law enforcement and criminal justice systems of foreign nations, the AFP Act does not safeguard against Australian complicity in the death penalty.
For instance, the Extradition Act contains provisions preventing the extradition of a person from Australia where the death penalty may be imposed. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act contains similar safeguards. The Australian Federal Police Act does not.
This inconsistency has already cost two lives. It should be rectified before it costs any more. As a matter of urgency, the AFP Act should be amended to prevent, subject perhaps to some very limited exceptions in cases of imminent threats to life, the sharing of information in circumstances where the death penalty may be imposed.
Second, absolutely key to credibility is consistency. When it comes to opposition to the death penalty, Australia has been anything but consistent.
In 2003 when the Bali Bombers were sentenced to death, then Prime Minister John Howard said "if [the death penalty] is what the law of Indonesia provides, well, that is how things should proceed. There won't be any protest from Australia." Labor Leader Simon Crean agreed. In 2008 with those executions fast approaching, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the group "deserve the justice that will be delivered to them".
It was unprincipled and short-sighted from all three of them. They effectively endorsed the same barbaric practice we've more recently argued is fundamentally wrong.
Third, central to Indonesia's unwillingness to compromise on the executions of Chan and Sukumaran was its sensitivity on issues of sovereignty. That sensitivity was evident in February this year when Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned, "Do not intervene in executions. This is Indonesia's judicial and political sovereignty."
Those sensitivities have been heightened in recent times by Australia's continued interception and return of asylum seekers to Indonesia against the express wishes of the Indonesian government. When Australia breached Indonesian territorial waters six times in the space of two months last year the Indonesian government made its displeasure clear, saying in a statement that it "deplores and rejects the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity", and that "any such violation of whatever basis constitutes a serious matter in bilateral relations of the two countries".
Myopically, unlawfully and arrogantly, Australia kept turning back boats regardless. In so doing we aggravated the very sensitivity we have more recently been trying to subdue. We also spent precious goodwill we might otherwise have been able to call on.
Fourth, and finally, Australia continues to rely on the same dangerous consequentialist logic to defend its own human rights abuses as Indonesia does to excuse its use of capital punishment.
Indonesia's use of the death penalty is undeniably cruel. It breaches international law when imposed for anything other than the most heinous of crimes. The UN has urged Indonesia to desist. Yet Indonesia continues to execute people on the misguided basis that it deters crime and that the ends justify the means.
Australia's mandatory and indefinite detention of innocent people - including children - on remote islands is also cruel. It also breaches international law. The UN has also urged Australia to stop doing it. Yet Australia continues, arguing that cruelty to survivors is the only way to stop deaths at sea - in effect, that the ends justify the means.
We inflict different rights abuses against different people for different purposes, but our logic is the same. We would have had far greater credibility to call on our neighbours to respect human rights and basic decency if we did so ourselves.
None of this is to deny that our Government tried desperately in recent times to save Chan and Sukumaran. It should be commended for doing so. It is a tragedy that those efforts failed.
Chan and Sukumaran now no longer have the chance to demonstrate that they have learned from their mistakes. We owe it to them to make sure we learn from ours. Law reform, consistent opposition to the death penalty and some honest introspection on the broader implications of our own rights abuses would be a good start.
Daniel Webb is the Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre. He tweets at @DanielHRLC.