Will the death penalty stop violent crime in PNG?
Australia should learn how to butt out of PNG affairs

Tougher criminal laws in PNG are long overdue


PRIME MINISTER PETER O’NEILL this week declared war on crime in Papua New Guinea amidst the escalating law and order situation, including the recent murder of an Australian businessman in Mt Hagen.

Crimes of all sorts - including rape, murder, police brutality and white collar fraud - are burgeoning in every institution and community and have become deterrents to development and threats to life in PNG.

The issue of crime has been raised by investors, civil society organisations and business houses many times. But there nothing concrete has been done about it apart from the establishment of Task Force Sweep which has made inroads into corruption and the systematic thievery of state finances.

The declaration of war on crime by Peter O’Neill this week was long overdue and is welcome news.

On Wednesday, the prime minister declared he will in the next few days table in cabinet harsher measures to curtail crime in PNG.

On the prime minister’s agenda are “the immediate implementation of the death penalty; life sentence without parole for rape; strengthening of the sorcery law; twenty-year jail term for breach of liquor laws including the making of home brews; fifty-year jail term for drug-related offences including growing and selling of marijuana and a high risk prison camp on an isolated island”.

While the proposed measures are welcome, the prime minister should also include on his agenda amendments to the leadership code. Instead of the lengthy and cumbersome process of investigations, referrals and tribunals against MPs and public servants who are alleged to have misappropriated or stolen state money(only to find that they resign at the eleventh hour to evade justice), the criminal law should proceed at the first instant.

If they are found guilty, they should be imprisoned for 50 years regardless of the amount of money involved. And they should be banned from holding public office for life.

PNG is known as one of the most corrupt countries on Planet Earth. This is true. Corruption has been the biggest problem trammeling development and progress on many fronts for decades. It’s about time something was done about it and this is the right time.

One of the pillars of Singapore’s success is its zero crime tolerance legal system. Let us learn, embrace and blend Singapore’s legal system with ours in the war against crime.


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Bob Hayward

About 35 or 40 years ago, the Post Courier received and printed a letter to the editor in which a visitor from South Africa, commenting on the current crime wave in PNG wrote the following and I paraphrase the content.

He said that, back home, crime was out of control and that as capital punishment was a fact of life, the punishment was carried out within the prison walls with only necessary witnesses in attendance.

It was ineffective and violent crime continued, until the government decided to trial public executions and a number of those on death row were chosen each week and the event was held on Sunday mornings on the waterfront (in his words) similar to the park area at Ela Beach and that very quickly, violent crime stopped.

I don't recall any follow up comments to his letter nor did it receive media newsworthy status.

The Post Courier, in their archives may still be able to dig the letter out for confirmation.

Ben Akuani

I see that the breakdown of law and order reflects complex social and economic issues.

Papua New Guinea is undergoing rapid transition, resulting in a breakdown of traditional social controls.

Rural areas lack the services and opportunities available in urban areas, resulting in rural to urban migration. The cost of living in towns is very high and causes some people to turn to criminal activities in order to survive.

Government should consider these very seriously rather than wasting funds on recruitment and training for new police personnel.

Nowadays you can't trust a police officer anymore unlike in the past. Today's police officers are known for their brutality and their dirty deals.

Triscilla Waikasi

I just want to comment on the first sentence of the sixth paragraph - "The Prime Minister should also include on his agenda amendments to the leadership code".

I very much support this statement. PNG is renowned for corruption. How can a politician steal thousands of kina and yet not be sentenced to jail, while an ordinary citizen steals just a lousy K50 and is sentenced to jail?

What is that supposed to mean? Why is that called "rule of law"?

Vero Kaupa

Seriously, corruption is the worst activity. It is growing rapidly and this O'Neill statement is really good.

I think there should be some serious funding and training of the police force to ensure that this statement will be followed through and obeyed.

Steven Gimbo

I just hope the government also makes a law that is comparable to the law O'Neill is trying to impose; to fight against official corruption and actually gets to prosecuting the offenders.

I don't think many of these freaking politicians might vote for the law!

The law the prime minister is trying to introduce is just a bandaid solution; first the government must address social issues.

The government must also work with the churches. They must try to ascertain first if there exists sanguma or not. Issues of the paranormal must be dealt with by churches.

I say this because I believe where there exists good, there also exists evil. Where there is God, there is also the devil.

I had personal experiences you can't explain in the normal sense. This is my personal opinion; you are entitled to yours.

Francis Nii

Ian - The PNG police force has been getting a lot of attention in recent years in terms of new recruitment, pay rises, upgrading of communication facilities, renovation of offices and staff houses, increasing the number of motor vehicle fleets etc.

And yet crimes are happening.

Some of these criminals are second or third time wilful murderers and rapists.This kind of criminal deserves the worst possible penalty.

Robin Lillicrapp

If the American model of law enforcement is any example to PNG it will only be to show how presently much is being done to involve military units in cohesion with local forces to combat expected civil unrest.

Ian Fraser

Serious funding, discipline and training of the police would be a radical enough start.

There has never been anything like this; even before independence a 5,000-man force was clearly not intended to do more than keep a sort of peace in the bigger towns.

Making penalties heavier, while the chance of being convicted in the first place remains small, is a cheap and easy, but pointless, move, don't you think?

(And Singapore is not a model for anything other than a tiny city-state. Compare to America, if comparison is needed; how is their absurdly heavy sentencing working out...?)

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