PAPUA NEW GUINEA

New Death Penalty Laws – ADPAN Calls on Government not to Resume Executions 

Following little parliamentary debate, the Papua New Guinea Parliament passed laws extending the death penalty for rape, murder and robbery. The law also appears to provide for new methods of execution, including lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, firing squad and death by deprivation of oxygen.

This decision is a serious setback: no executions have been carried out in Papua New Guinea since gaining independence in 1954. The Pacific has up till now been notable in being virtually a death penalty-free area with the last execution taking place in Tonga over 30 years ago.

“The government is responding with drastic but ineffective measures to a spike in violent crime and violence against women” says Louise Vischer, ADPAN Coordinator. Senior members from the Catholic Church, the Women Arise movement and senior members from the judiciary are amongst those who have been vocal in opposing the recent moves to extend the use of the death penalty. Earlier this month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described this as “a major setback”.

There is no convincing evidence to suggest that the death penalty is effective in combating violent crime and the passage of this very regressive piece of legislation is a major concern for the whole region.

ADPAN works against the death penalty across the Asia and the Pacific and has three members based in Papua New Guinea.

ADPAN calls on the government not to set Papua New Guinea on a course which sees the resumption of executions.

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Helen Amnol, ADPAN member from Papua New Guinea says:

“The death penalty is a controversial issue and is being debated right across the country. As a member of the Women Arise Papua New Guinea, our concerns were voiced through our founder and spokesperson. Also as a concerned member of ADPAN and a citizen of this country, my view is that the recent amendments of the Criminal Code are not only regressive but totally wrong on all levels.

PNG has a very weak law enforcement system and continues to face challenges in the detection of crime, investigation and prevention of crimes.

Legalising murder will not reduce crime. All systems need to be strengthened, rather than imposing the death penalty.”

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