Thursday, July 21, 2011

Papua New Guinea and the death penalty

Back in March, Amnesty International was praising the Pacific for leading the world towards abolition of the death penalty, highlighting the fact that the region had not carried out any executions or imposed any death sentences for a decade. Sadly, it hasn't lasted. Papua New Guinea, one of the four countries to retain the death penalty on its books, has just sentenced five men to death for murder.

The good news is that the sentence may not in fact be carried out; PNG reintroduced the death penalty in 1991, but has not actually executed anyone since then due to an absence of regulations surrounding executions. But its still a blemish on the region's human rights record, and one we should be working to eradicate. And given our long record as an advocate of human rights and an opponent of the death penalty, New Zealand should be leading that charge. While we cannot interfere in a judicial decision, we should be working to encourage the PNG government (and those of Nauru, Tonga and Fiji) to repeal capital punishment, so we can make the Pacific truly death-penalty free.