16/05/2013 09:39

Papua New Guinea divided over implementation of death penalty


Papua New Guinea divided over implementation of death penalty

13 MAY 2013. Around the end of April and the first week of May this year a debate took place on the University Intranet Broadcast among lecturers of different departments of Divine Word University in Madang. A revised summary of the discussion, reviewed and approved by the participants, is now posted on www.cbcpngsi.org an informal website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Some of the participants in the debate, though clearly in favor of the death penalty, invoke  a national consultation or even a referendum on the issue. Others believe that the death penalty will not produce significant changes; and violence will continue unabated if other social ills are not addressed.

Missing is probably the point that the death penalty is already part of the PNG judicial system. Courts already sentence people to the death penalty; which according to PNG laws should be carried out by hanging.

Hanging? Yes, hanging! This is what Atty. General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua clearly stated for the general public in his Tok Piksa interview on Sunday, 5 May at 7:00pm on EMTV. However, he added that hanging was deemed inhumane and out of date by the government when convicts were to be executed about 8-10 years.

Since then government and parliament never update legislation and equipment to carry out the death sentences. They would probably have shifted to lethal injection, which is the most accepted procedure in so-called developed countries. But they never did, and one wonders why.

The fact is that the application of the death penalty, though still in place in several countries, runs against the general development of judicial practice and general thinking. The world tends to abandon the death penalty, not to promote it. The application of death penalty places nations and communities in earlier stages of civilization.

Therefore, a country introducing or implementing the death penalty will not gain international applause, but closer scrutiny and harsh criticism. Papua New Guinea should probably look at something more effective and accepted to address its problems. Sentence to life (rather than death) coupled with hard but redemptive labor, may probably be the best “reward” for heinous crimes.


Secretary, Commission on Social Communications

Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands

Mob: 7362 2950 - giorgiolicini@yahoo.com