28/01/2014 05:40

The death penalty coming like at thief

By Fr Giorgio Licini – Catholic Reporter PNG
The front page of The National on 27 January reminded the public of the fact that the death penalty is coming and is not far. Thirteen men sentenced for unspeakable crimes of piracy, attempted piracy and willful murder years or decades ago can start counting their days. They are unlikely to see another Christmas or New Year celebration. Their mothers, wives and children better forget about them. High ranking PNG government officials have travelled abroad during the year 2013 trying to understand if it would be easier to get rid of them by lethal injection, hanging, or firing squad.
The countries visited, reportedly US, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are not on the top list of human rights watchdogs, but at least others such as China, Iran or Saudi Arabia were avoided. One day the nation will wake up at the news the first head (since 1954) has rolled probably somewhere in Bomana. We refuse to believe that all thirteen inmates will be executed at the same time, that way prompting PNG to grab for the first time in history the headlines of all international media.
It is the expectation of the government, and probably the great majority of the country’ citizens, that after this bloody and gruesome exercise crime will drastically drop all over PNG. It never happened anywhere in the world, but we normally say that Papua New Guinea is “different”.
It is also admitted in informal debates that executioners will have to be hired (hopefully at a reasonable price) from outside the country to avoid ensuing retaliation and possible tribal fights among PNG citizens. It’s like years ago hiring foreign mercenaries to kill people in Bougainville. A lesson apparently not learned. Will in fact relatives and wantoks of the criminals not hold the highest officials of the Department of Justice responsible for the execution of their guilty relatives? Is it going to be Sepiks against Simbus once again?
The death penalty is coming like a thief. But it may not be able to get away scot free.