Death penalty proposals put lives at risk
The Government of Papua New Guinea has announced that Parliament will imminently debate these draft legal changes. Executions have not taken place in the country since 1954.
The Attorney General has announced that he will be tabling a Bill this week to facilitate implementing the death penalty. Another Bill to expand the scope of the death penalty to crimes including sorcery-related murder and rape is also expected to be discussed.
Moves to implement and expand the use of the death penalty were announced by the government as part of a series of measures aimed at addressing the situation of law and order in the country, following highly publicised and brutal sorcery-related killings and rapes of women.
The law currently allows for death penalty by hanging for crimes including treason, piracy with use of force and wilful (premeditated) murder.
The death penalty violates the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
A resumption of executions and expansion of scope of the death penalty in Papua New Guinea would be an extremely retrograde step, and would set the country against the global trend towards abolition.
It also runs counter to recommendations, including in recent United Nations General Assembly resolutions on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, to reduce the number of offences for which the death penalty may be applied.
Amnesty International is calling on the public to write to the Papua New Guinea authorities.
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29 May 2013 update
According to ADPAN, on 29 May, “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”.