by Tokana Hasavi – EM TV, Port Moresby
The Catholic Church maintains a firm stance against the death penalty, saying it has no place in PNG’s society and does not fight crime.
Yesterday afternoon, General Secretary to the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands, Father Victor Roche, described value systems as the key in fighting crime.
His concern follows the PNG government’s move to facilitate the death penalty, as well as the execution this week of eight convicted drug traffickers in Indonesia, including two Australians.
Father Roche claims that the executions in Indonesia will encourage Papua New Guinea to exercise the death penalty on 13 of its death row convicts.
“Now that PNG’s closest neighbour has gone ahead with the executions of eight drug traffickers, the government may feel encouraged to execute it convicts on death row, and the Catholic Church reaffirms its position that the penalty is not the answer,” said a vocal Father Roche.
Although the PNG government reinstated the use of the death penalty in 2013 following numerous heinous killings, particularly sorcery-related killings, and an increase crime rates, the infrastructure and execution methods are yet to be fully established.
The executions in Indonesia this week have incited debate on capital punishment in PNG, as the government deliberates its implementation.
Although countries like Indonesia and America enshrine the death penalty in their constitution, Father Roche says the laws of their land must be respected by everyone.
“I am not sanctifying the act of the criminals when they contravene the laws of a land; they are criminals, but taking away a life is not the answer, as it takes away the rehabilitation chances,” Father Roche said.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill issued a general statement yesterday afternoon, warning individuals involved in drug trafficking to think again, or ruin the rest of their lives. Mr O’Neill further mentioned that anyone considering transporting illegal drugs must be prepared for the serious consequences.