PNG AG Reacts To Criticism Abroad Of Death Penalty

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EU, France, UK condemned return to capital punishment

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 15, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s government has advised foreign diplomats in the country not to interfere in its internal affairs.

In a statement yesterday, Attorney-General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua said diplomats should not "implicitly threaten and intimidate this country in the way it should be designing its social development agenda."

He was responding to a newspaper advertisement last Thursday released by ambassadors Martin Dihm and Pascal Maubert of the European Union and France, and United Kingdom High Commissioner Jackie Barson. They had said the most disturbing suggestion discussed frequently in their respective countries as a measure to curb crime in PNG was the proposal to resume the implementation of the death penalty.

They argued the international trend to abolish the death penalty was based on a number of sound reasons.

Their joint statement read in part: "The death penalty is widely seen as an inhuman and archaic way of punishment.

"More and more countries believe that abolition contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights; and many faith-based organisations see capital punishment as violating fundamental principles.

"Death is irreversible. Even the best judge or court in the world can and does commit errors. Once executed, no worldly power can ever reverse the sentence when new evidence appears.

"This has been highlighted with the introduction of DNA testing and in a significant number of cases elsewhere, previously convicted murderers were found to be innocent."

Kua, who is acting Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, said he was surprised that foreign diplomats in PNG were making comments that suggested that the country and its leadership and the government should break their own laws.

"I am extremely surprised that foreign diplomats in this country should be making comments of that nature, especially when I have explained to them personally that the death penalty is legislated by Parliament and it is a valid law in this country," he said.

"They are advocating the breach of our own laws. If that’s what they are saying then they are explicitly committing a criminal offence in PNG.

"It is not their place, nor obligation, nor duty to come and make statements of this nature in the country.

"We accept that they are entitled to express their views and they have expressed those views in the right way to me and I have accepted that.

"But, this is where their duty terminates. They don’t have any further obligation to take the debate out into the public domain and to implicitly threaten and intimidate this country in the way it should be designing its social development agenda.

"We are partners, we must respect one another and we must not do so by threatening intimidation."

He invited the three diplomats to look back at their respective countries’ history and tell him whether they had never gone through this process before.

He challenged the foreign diplomats to come up with alternative agendas and to provide the resources to back up what they were saying rather than just lip-servicing PNG.

Attempts to get comments from the EU, France and British embassies yesterday were unsuccessful.

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