About Us

Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP) stands for a world without the death penalty. We work with our partner organisations, volunteers, our board, the Australian public and key stakeholders to develop legal and policy solutions that help save lives.

CPJP (formerly Reprieve Australia) was founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 2001 by criminal barristers Richard Bourke and Nick Harrington to provide legal representation and humanitarian assistance to those at risk of execution. Initially, our task was to provide volunteer assistance to capital defence centres in the US and while we remain committed to this essential work, our focus is on challenging the death penalty in Asia. CPJP’s Australian base offers strategic advantages for the work, despite our regional outlook. Australia has identified abolition of the death penalty as one of its human rights priority areas, and there is much that can be done to ensure that Australia is a leading voice on abolition.

Our Board is led by Stephen Keim SC and comprises 7 voluntary Board members. We operate on a small budget comprised of donations and grants, which covers our casework, research, policy work, advocacy and educational work.

CPJP strives to be practical and effective.  We give our time for free, so we have no time to waste.  Our approach is to be flexible in the ways we assist.  Our strategies focus on providing sensible and sophisticated assistance and support to those working for change, with a particular focus on countries in our region.

Our key strategies and goals

Our key strategies promote and support positive engagement with other NGOs and members of civil society from around the region, enabling a more coordinated campaign against the death penalty.  This supportive leadership provides practical ways for the work that is already being done, to be more effective.

In 2018, CPJP commenced a partnership with Monash University to create Eleos Justice. Eleos Justice aims to be a world-leading Institute for policy, research, advocacy and casework devoted to the abolition of the death penalty. In July 2018, we launched the Anti-Death Penalty Clinic, phase one of the project. Law students have had the opportunity to work remotely on casework and advocacy briefs for a number of partner NGOs across Asia.

CPJP is a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN).

Policy work

The region is in need of quality, country specific policy work that promotes meaningful change and advances abolition of the death penalty and an end to extra-judicial killing.


Assisting regional legal practitioners and partner organisations, by providing guidance, casework support and referrals when required.

Advocacy and Education

We aim to maintain a voice in Australia to educate students and the community more broadly as to why Australia opposes the death penalty and to ensure Australia remains committed to its Strategy for Abolition of the Death Penalty.  Internationally, we provide training, carry out advocacy, and help advance abolition across several fora.


We aim to provide practical training to regional lawyers and advocates by drawing upon our networks of lawyers, forensic experts and academics in Australia and abroad to bolster technical skills and capacity.

Community building

Using our networks to connect and support organisations and civil society in the region to build a community of well informed and well supported thinkers and advocates, assist in the sharing of knowledge and the formulation of a collaborative reform agenda.

The number of death sentences recorded globally in 2018 was 2,531. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Global Report: Death Sentences and Executions 2018 (2019), 10.