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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 7) – The death penalty is due to be abolished in the sitting of parliament that begins today.

The amendment to the Crimes Act 1969 is in line with a common view shared by New Zealand and other countries in the region that the death penalty is no longer appropriate punishment.

Its effect is to change the Criminal Procedure Act 1980-81 and the Judicature Act 1980-81 so that "death" changes to "life imprisonment". Apparently the chosen method of "death" is execution by hanging.

Capital punishment under the act has never been carried out and it would only apply to the crime of treason.

Treason is defined in the act as taking part in a war against the Cooks or New Zealand, an attempt to overthrow government or an attempt to harm (wound or kill) the Queen. The Cook Islands law regarding capital punishment was based on the old NZ law.

This latest amendment of legislation adopted in the 1960s is one of many that government has been addressing recently.

The law and order select committee announced yesterday that the transport amendment bill that it has reviewed since April is ready for tabling.

The bill was added to parliament's agenda along with the law commission bill that was also under review by the committee.

The committee's report on the transport amendment includes a special recommendation for an annual budget of $50,000 for police to use for road safety issues, road signs and maintenance.

Committee chair Cassey Eggelton was very pleased with and grateful for the contributions made to their work made by MPs, many witnesses, the road safety council, health and police.

Parliament has a heavy agenda of bills and papers ready for presentation this week. Members will sit from 1pm today, 1-5pm tomorrow and 10am-2pm on Friday. Parliament is expected to sit for about a week.

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