30 Sep 2004

PNG courts not fit to handle death penalty cases, says judge

4:40 pm on 30 September 2004

Papua New Guinea's former chief justice, Sir Arnold Amet, says PNG courts are not competent to handle cases which might involve the death penalty.

Sir Arnold told a seminar on the death penalty that cases are poorly investigated, adjudicated and tried, so it is not possible to be sure that correct judgements are reached.

He says judges are stressed to the limit and the country's prosecuting officers are ill equipped.

One of the people at the seminar was the UK capital punishment expert Peter Hodgkinson:

"There are some pretty awful damn things going on in, in this society, as in others. I think the very fact they've had only five or six sentences since 1991, says something about the careful way in which they are obviously selecting those that are sentenced to death. So they've had 350 murders so far this year, in a population of five million. If you extrapolate from that over say ten or twelve years, to only have sentenced five, six, people to death, does suggest that there's not an enthusiasm amongst the judiciary."