Monday, 18 May 2015

PNG says death penalty 'under review' after Indonesia fallout

Source: Bangkok post (11 May 2015)

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said the death penalty is "under review" in Papua New Guinea after recent global outcry over the execution of foreign drug convicts in neighbouring Indonesia.

The Pacific island nation revived capital punishment two years ago to reduce rampant crime, prompted in part by the burning alive of a 20-year-old woman by a crowd for sorcery.

While the law allows for execution by lethal injection, hanging and firing squad, no death row convicts have been killed since then due to a lack of infrastructure.

"As I have indicated publicly, that (death penalty) is under review," O'Neill told reporters in comments published by the Post-Courier on Monday, after being asked whether PNG would think again following the Indonesian fallout.

"Our agencies of government are reviewing all aspects of the death penalty in our country and we will debate this issue on the floor of parliament when parliament resumes."

O'Neill's comments came on the eve of a two-day visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, under whose brief leadership 14 drug convicts have been executed, 12 of them foreigners.

Jakarta put to death two Australians, a Brazilian, and four Nigerians on a prison island, along with one Indonesian, last month despite worldwide calls for them to be spared and heartrending pleas from their families.

Widodo was unmoved, arguing that Indonesia is facing an emergency due to rising narcotics use.

In response, Australia, a close friend of Papua New Guinea, recalled its ambassador from Indonesia for what it called the "cruel and unnecessary" executions while the United Nations expressed deep regret.

PNG has also faced national and international opposition to the reintroduction of the death penalty in a country where an execution has not been carried out since 1954.

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