By Neville Choi – EM TV, Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea is one step closer to seeing the full implementation of the death penalty.
A National Executive Council-approved inter-agency committee, comprising key government agencies, has been tasked to oversee the death penalty’s implementation.
Already canvassed are the methods of execution that Papua New Guinea has decided on, and the processes involved when implementing each of them.
In May 2005, the National Executive Council directed the ministers for Justice, Internal Security and Correctional Services, to work with the then Law Reform Commission, to review penalty provisions for serious crimes; and to identify which of these crimes should attract mandatory death sentences.
In 2013, necessary legislative amendments were made, with a list of crimes warranting the death penalty.
These crimes were treason, piracy, attempted piracy with actual violence, wilful murders, aggravated rape, and robbery with violence.
Currently, 13 people have been sentenced to death, and are awaiting execution.
Toward the end of last year, the National Executive Council endorsed the setting up of the inter-agency committee to ensure the implementation of the death penalty.
Included in guidelines proposed by this committee were the methods of execution. Confirmed methods to be used, include hanging; the administering of anaesthetics, followed by lethal injection; medical death through anaesthetics and deprivation of oxygen; firing squad; and electrocution.
It also recognises that although the United Nations is against the death penalty, that ‘the decision lies with the government on how best it can address law and order issues in the country’.
The committee has also canvassed existing areas in law that can see the exoneration of prisoners sentenced to death, under Clemency and Powers of Mercy.
However, there is strong indication that the death penalty could be carried out on those already sentenced before the end of this year.