A ruling by Papua New Guinea’s national court has paved the way for the country’s first executions in nearly 70 years.
The 14 convicted prisoners have the opportunity to appeal to a government-appointed committee for clemency, but if that fails, executions will continue pending a committee decision on the most appropriate mode of execution.
This comes after a five-man court annulled temporary orders from the Audiencia Nacional that had suspended death sentences.
The 14 men were convicted of crimes including murder and rape. In 2015, 13 of them were sentenced to death after having exhausted all their resources.
Prisoners can still apply for clemency. An advisory committee made up of five people: a lawyer, a doctor with experience in psychiatry, a member of parliament, a minister of religion and a person with experience in community service, will consider your applications.
The last execution in Papua New Guinea took place in November 1954 in Port Moresby. Papua New Guinea abolished capital punishment in 1970, but reintroduced it in 1991, although there have been no executions since the reintroduction.
In 2013, Papua New Guinea took steps to reactivate the death penalty and at the same time amended the legislation to include more severe penalties for certain crimes.
The government then asked the constitutional reform commission for a report on the most appropriate method of execution.
The commission traveled to countries with experience in capital punishment, including the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, to provide advice to the government.
Following the commission’s report, the cabinet endorsed hanging, firing squad and lethal injection.
Then-Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said that “The level of these serious crimes in our community, particularly crimes of a sexual nature and murder, is unacceptable. Heinous behavior is perpetrated by a few, but the country as a whole suffers. We must act now to protect the majority. The proposed laws are tough but necessary. We have to address a situation that is destroying our country. “
But many in Papua New Guinea are still against the death penalty.
The secretary general of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, Fr. Giorgio Licini, said: “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, it has recently discarded, at its top level, any support, justification, approval for the death penalty under any circumstances. “