by Vasinatta Yama – EM TV, Port Moresby
God is the only one who has the power and authority to take a person’s life.
This was the statement from Port Moresby Archbishop John Ribat.
Archbishop Ribat reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s doctrine, ‘Thou shall not kill’, saying that it is against the national government’s death penalty.
The Catholic Church, although against the merciless killings and crimes against innocent people, say the death penalty is not a solution. Archbishop Ribat reaffirmed the Church’s statement in 2013 that they are against the death penalty.
The way forward in reducing crimes and maintaining law and order is to improve our justice and policing system, and rehabilitation programs. The Church’s stand is for the government to stick to life sentencing with hard labour.
Under PNG’s Criminal Code, offences of treason, piracy and attempted piracy are punishable by death. The death penalty for wilful murder was abolished in 1970, but reinstated in 1991.
The last execution was before Independence in 1954, when PNG was a colony of Australia. In July 2011, five men were sentenced to death for the wilful murder of eight people in a boat in the Duke of York Islands in 2007 but no executions have been carried out due to an absence of regulations surrounding the process.
However, in 2013, parliament voted to implement the death penalty and extend it to cases of aggravated rape and robbery, and to permit executions by electrocution, hanging, lethal injection, suffocating and firing squad.
Thirteen men are now on death row.
The Catholic Church said the PNG government is contradicting the country’s principle of following the Bible and claiming that PNG is a Christian country.