November 10, 2005 | Jeff Wall

Capital punishment – on our doorstep soon

I have no issue with political, religious, community and other leaders seeking clemency for the young Australian citizen having execution in Singapore…though I suspect the sum total of their efforts will lead to absolutely no change in the position of the Singapore Government.
However, we had better get used to capital punishment being applied by Governments in our region, and on our very doorstep.
The National Parliament of our closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, some years ago passed an Act to introduce the death penalty for crimes such as murder and pack rape. It was passed with an overwhelming majority – enjoying both the support of the Government and the Opposition.
Even though the death penalty has been imposed in at least one case, it has not been carried out because the Government has yet to determine the method of execution and other “procedural” issues relating to capital punishment.
Today the Somare Government is under considerable political, media and community pressure to put in place the necessary procedures to enable capital punishment to be applied.
An editorial in the News Limited controlled Post Courier today is headed – “Finalise Execution Methods for PNG”. It calls on the Government to put in place the procedures, and the Judiciary to apply it where appropriate.
Also today, one of the nation’s most respected Police Commanders publicly called for the death penalty provisions to be implemented without delay.
There is little doubt that the death penalty enjoys massive community support in PNG. With National Elections to be held in the first half of 2007, pressure for capital punishment to be applied will grow in the coming months.
It is inevitable that the first execution in PNG is not far away. The Australian Government complained bitterly when the death penalty law was passed. That annoyed the PNG Government and many Members of Parliament.
No doubt we will complain when the first execution is carried out.
Our complaint will have absolutely ZERO impact in Papua New Guinea, except that it might possibly annoy the PNG Government, and put some temporary, and very minor “strain”, on the bilateral relationship.
Just as it will in Singapore in the weeks, or days, ahead.

Posted by Jeff Wall at 4:28 pm | Comments (3) |


  1. Should we have the death penalty here for major drug traffickers and importers? Apparently if they get through on the Asian side, then “life” in jail here amounts to little more than ten years, and maybe a bigger deterrent is needed. With the stronger safeguards in the Australian legal system, we would not be in as much danger of convicting innocent people.
    There are no constitutional barriers in the fed or any state to doing this.

    Comment by Shaunna — November 10, 2005 @ 6:48 pm

  2. Light Some Candles in the Darkness

    Whilst it is right to focus at the moment on saving Van Tuong Nguyen’s life, what we really need to do is have a strong continuing campaign in Australia pushing against the use of the death penalty everywhere, including even more significant trading …

    Comment by Andrew Bartlett — November 11, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

  3. I have not seen any evidence that penalties as we know them, that is, death, whipping,prison terms, fines,stop crime or anti social behavior.It does however maintain a huge army of people with a vested interest in keeping the “lora norda” show on the road. Those who commit crimes,be it speeding, assault, robbery, fraud, drugs or murder, do so in the absolute belief that they will not get caught.There has to be better ways.

    Comment by Ian — November 19, 2005 @ 7:37 pm

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