Wary of backlash, PNG signals death penalty rethink

9:42 pm on 12 March 2015

Papua New Guinea's government has signalled it may backtrack on implementation of the death penalty, wary of a growing international backlash.

The Wall Street Journal reports PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill as saying growing criticism of neighbouring Indonesia over the execution of foreign drug convicts has prompted a rethink by his government.

The PNG parliament voted in May 2013 to reactivate death-penalty laws which had been dormant since 1954, to make murder, rape and robbery, as well as some corruption crimes, punishable by execution.

Since reactivation, no one had been executed as the government was yet to settle on a method of execution.

However Mr O'Neill says PNG does not want to be seen as actively promoting the death penalty as a means of enforcing law and order .

He says the government is actively debating the death-penalty issue and there may be some need for review.

The Prime Minister suggested the rethink has been made possible due to recent gains in law and order in PNG, where he says there's been an almost 50% drop in rates of major crimes.