PORT VILA, Vanuatu (March 6, 2001 - Vanuatu Trading Post/PINA Nius Online)---Vaturisu, the traditional council of chiefs of Éfaté island, has proposed the death penalty for murderers following two killings in two days in Port Vila.

Vaturisu president Chief Andrew Kalpoilep and secretary Chief Jimmy Meameadola said their announcement comes as a result of a growing number of senseless killings of innocent people.

Vaturisu was first shocked by the brutality of the killing of Australian businessman Justin West in his home.

This was followed by the killing of two women in two days.

Vaturisu chiefs, who are responsible for peace and unity in all traditional nasara in Éfaté, said they are gravely alarmed by the nature of the killings.

"It all boils down to one sad truth - that there is no respect left for human value in life in Éfaté," the chiefs stated.

The two latest killings forced the chiefs, together with the National Council of Women, to ask the government to introduce a proposed draft law on the death penalty.

"This law is to be used to judge any man or woman who plots to kill another person," they said.

Vaturisu chiefs said it is vital for all chiefs and other responsible bodies and institutions to act now before it is too late.

They said: "If no tough law is put in place now to deal with his kind of crime, it is clear that there is no more respect for the law or for human life or traditional Melanesian values, faith in God as well as Christian principles which altogether form the basis for the national constitution."

Vaturisu plans to take up the issue with other organizations in the coming weeks.

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