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Death penalty by suffocation passes PNG parliament

DANEL PIOTROWSKI & AAP | Melbourne Herald-Sun

AUSTRALIA'S CLOSEST NEIGHBOUR Papua New Guinea moved last night to introduce the death penalty - and suffocation is one of the approved execution methods.

The nation's parliament has passed amendments to its criminal code that will allow death sentences for rape, murder and robbery.

Approved ways people can be executed include lethal injection, hanging, firing squad, electrocution and medical death by "deprivation of oxygen".

The move comes on the heels of a series of violent murders and sex crimes in the country this year. In particular, women accused of being witches have been killed in gruesome public show-trials.

In one incident, a young mother was stripped and burned alive in a public market, while in another a former teacher was beheaded.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's spokesman justified the measures in a statement.

"These are very tough penalties, but they reflect the seriousness of the nature of the crimes and the demand by the community for parliament to act."

"Which method (of execution is) to be used will be determined by the head of state on advice from the National Executive Council (cabinet)", he said.

The parliament also repealed the controversial 1971 Sorcery Act, meaning those convicted of killing accused "sorcerers" will be sentenced to death,

Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed her opposition to the death penalty on a visit to PNG earlier this month.

Death by hanging has been part of PNG's criminal code since before independence from Australia in 1975, but has not been enforced since 1954.


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Joel Done

The executions are long overdue. We have animals who cannot fit into a civilised society. We have serious law and order problems, especially violent crime.

Successive governments over the years have failed to address the problems. Who is Amnesty International to cry foul and say "poverty stricken PNG" has passed a death law.

The death penalty has been in the Criminal Code since 1974 and the mode of killing by hanging was described. However, who should do the hanging was not described.

The government has gone ahead and come up with all kinds of methods without spelling out which state agency should be responsible for the execution.

Since this issue has been left hanging in the air, will this question be decided by the courts?

The failures by successive governments to address the law and order issues, in my respectful view, is that, money is not being put into the correct mouth. Monies have been largely wasted through thieving and corruption.

With the high rate of corruption in the country generally; police are riddled with corruption so there is breakdown in the rule of law.

Do we have a kleptocratic or democratic government? The writing is there on the wall, PNG is a failed state, let a second or third party to come and run the country.

The criminal justice system has been indecisive in handing down lenient penalties. The discretionary powers vested in them were done so by the people through the Constitution.

I conclude here with this question, has discretion been applied to achieve the maximum benefit for the people?

Maureen Wari

Very important - the security cameras and 24/7/365 hotline for abuse will be set in a network so all appropriate personnel are on the same page and no one person can manipulate or tamper with evidence.

Maureen Wari

Peter - Rose has a right, all PNG women and girls have a right, to walk, shop, market and have some leisure freely and safely in PNG.

For those who have the blessed opportunity to be in Australia, UK, Singapore or USA, ol ken raun wantaim naispla Louie Vuitton, ol kainkain bling lo han na nek na nogat bagarap bai kamap long ol.

Sorry for our susas lo ples - hard lo enjoyim sampla ol liklik pleasures of laif.

Having listed these pleasures, our women folk are not that sophisticated. All we're asking is to live in our towns without fear. For our freedom and respect is what I believe Rose and myself are on about.

The buck stops here.

The Prime Minister and his cabinet have made a decision, and I pray, will accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.

It is in the government's court now for them to make sure they do this right. When I say do it right, I mean set up for success and continuously work to minimize error.

Equip and support all law enforcement units (good vehicles, unlimited fuel, stationary, responsible personnel, security cameras for all first responders to pick out who did what, look after its law enforcers), equip clinics and aid posts, train personnel to be ready to meet demand, etc.

In this case, do everything to positively identify perpetrator so there is no doubt with evidence.

Seems like a slow trudge up a mountain but this will make the recent amendments worth it all.

Peter Kranz

Maureen - I must admit that Rose agrees with you and supports this move, so we have a domestic disagreement. And she has more reason than many to demand justice (I will say no more).

It's just that I think, if the state sanctions killing, then we are as bad as the criminals.

And no system of justice is perfect - so innocent people will be executed, as has happened many times before.

Better to err on the side of caution.

David Kitchnoge

I haven't read the finer details of the new laws yet but definitely phrases like "penalty for robbery is death" are too loose.

I'm sure the lawmakers may have defined the exact circumstance under which a robbery would warrant a death sentence.

For example, violent armed robbery resulting in putting people's lives at risk or violent armed robbery resulting in extreme duress that can demonstrably lead to mental problems for the victims.

If it's not properly defined, then I would strongly urge Parliament to bring it back and have it defined in such a way that leaves no grey area.

But overall happy that the lawmakers have finally acted to protect the millions of innocent peace loving citizens and our friends who just want to live good, happy lives and without fear.

Maureen Wari

"These are very tough penalties, but they reflect the seriousness of the crimes and the demand by the community for parliament to act" said the PM's spokesman.

Mr Kranz, the response is from people who live amongst the lawbreakers: in Moresby, in Lae, in Hagen, in Rabaul and in the other 19 towns. It is an everyday thing to them.

What does one do when all the sermons have been preached, all the outreaches have been done, when the good people are attacked, when all the good advices are shunned?

Crime has been happening everyday for all I know, many don't make the Post, National, EmTV or ABC PNG. It has just balooned out of proportion in the last 6 months making a mockery of lotu, government, law enforcers and all law abiding citizens.

If this tough law makes one robber scared because it will cost him his life, let it be law.

Let every single person in PNG have a job now to remind him/herself " I must not steal, because I will be put to death. Stealing should not be labelled a lesser crime. It is a crime.

Peter Kranz

Well the (allegedly) Goliala young men who held me and Rose up at gunpoint one night and got away with 200 kina and a mobile phone don't deserve death.

Maybe a spank on the bottom and a few nights in gaol, but not death!

For God's sake, are we going to kill people for stealing?

John Ellis

The leaders of PNG have made a wise decision.The death penaly for violent crime was given to man by God. We do not have such strong leaders in Australia.

I hope one day the people of Australia can vote for the death penalty to be reinstated. It sure stops repeat offenders no matter what amnesty says about it not reducing crime.

Peter Kranz

The enacted Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2013 means that:

* The Sorcery Act 1971 is repealed in its entirety and killings associated with sorcery will now be treated as wilful murder. The penalty is death.

* The penalty for aggravated rape is death. This is for rape using dangerous weapons; or in the company of more than one person; or where there is grievous bodily harm; and where the victim is leas than 10 years old.

* Kidnapping will carry a prison term of 50 years without remission or parole.

* Kidnapping for ransom will attract life imprisonment without remission or parole.

* The penalty for stealing money between K5-K9.99 million is 50 years imprisonment without remission or parole and the penalty for any amount more than K10 million is life imprisonment without remission or parole.

* The penalty for robbery is death.

For the death penalty, the modes of execution are by hanging, lethal injection, medical death deprivation of
oxygen, firing squad and electrocution.

PNG - are you proud of this?

Steve Muhammad Gallagher

Full support. Mi driman lo disla na nau mi amamas tasol tru tru ba ol executim displa ol lo tu o?

Maureen Wari

Took a long time coming.

We remember our sisters, fellow citizens who were beheaded or stripped, blindfolded, tied and burnt or tortured at stake because of an assumption of sorcery.

We remember our sisters, fellow citizens or guests raped at gunpoint, or with a weapon of sorts because they weren't equally armed and were just at a certain place at the wrong time.

We remember the countless little girls, maybe boys too, who were abused by grown-ups twice their size all because they chose to trust.

We remember many men also who could not compete against the gun.

We remember the shock, the grief, the anger, the silent tears, the 'having to live with it' until last night.

It won't bring back the dead, that's for sure. It won't erase the experiences nor the trauma caused.

But to all our sisters, your able-bodied sisters have spoken, your fellow citizens have spoken, your government has spoken. The world has spoken. Your God did not forget.

The criminal code has been amended to rightly punish the murderer, the armed rapist and the armed robber by death.

At last, I can have some peace. Dedicated to Miss Heather Mitchell (pilot, Lae, 1987). It did take a long time coming.

Leonard Roka

Tingting blo mi

Mrs Barbara Short

Hopefully this will put the fear of death into the people who are planning murder.

It is good to see that they are trying to tackle these problems associated with sorcery.

I think Indonesia could have a lot to teach PNG on this topic.

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