PNG ponders imposition of the death penalty

Last updated 15:24 29/04/2013

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Papua New Guinea's government is considering backing the death penalty in a bid to deter crimes against women and "sorcery"-related killings.

Attorney-General Kerenga Kua says public debate is now in favour of the death penalty amid law and order problems in the Pacific Island nation.

"Most of the people are ready for it and they want it now, as they are fed up of the law and order problems in this country and they want to see a more liberal use of the death penalty," Mr Kua was quoted as saying by Port Moresby's The National newspaper.

"Those horrific, brutal, gruesome killings of the type that a woman was burned alive to her death should attract the death penalty because this is a total inhumane way of taking a person's life."

In February, 20-year-old Kepari Leniata was stripped naked, tortured and burned alive on the outskirts of Mount Hagen, the capital of PNG's Western Highlands.

Another brutal murder was reported in Lae over the weekend.

Maria Drua, 20, was reportedly found in her family's food garden on Friday, about 300 metres from her home. Her arm had been severed and her body left just 100 metres from her young daughter.

It is the latest in a series of killings in PNG.

In other, separate incidents, former teacher Helen Rumbali was beheaded, her Nikono sister kidnapped and tortured by a group of villagers and a US academic pack raped near Madang.

PNG's Catholic Church is against implementing the death penalty.

"Will the nation itself model to young men that if someone is bothering them, the best remedy is to kill," Archbishop Douglas Young said in a letter to local media.

"It is already well known that the death penalty is not a deterrent to violent crime."

PNG's community development minister Loujaya Toni has come under intense criticism on social media for suggesting conjugal visits for prisoners deter rape.

"We need to promote rehabilitation of low to medium offenders and one aspect is to allow weekend bail for them under custody to interact with their wives and return to jail to prevent rising level of sexual frustration," she said last week.

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