Thursday, June 06, 2013

Papua New Guinea to Expand Death Penalty


The Criminal Code (Amendment) Act (CC(A)) 2013 was adopted on 28 May 2013. The legislation, which was passed by Parliament with reportedly little debate, adds four new methods of execution. Previously only execution by hanging was allowed – now lethal injection, electrocution, firing squad, and “medical death by deprivation of oxygen” are also legal methods of execution.

The law also expands the scope of the death penalty to crimes including robbery and aggravated rape – in cases when there has been accompanying violence, or the use of dangerous weapons, or more than one person committing the crime. It specifies that the death penalty can also be applied for sorcery-related murder. This crime will now be categorized as willful (premeditated) murder, an offense that has carried the death penalty in Papua New Guinea since 1991.

While Papua New Guinea has retained the death penalty in law, it has not carried out executions since 1954.
Sources have asserted that executions could take place imminently now that these amendments have been passed. Numerous religious groups and women’s organizations in Papua New Guinea, as well as prominent political figures, have publicly opposed government moves to start implementing the death penalty.