The United Nations human rights office today expressed serious concern over Papua New Guinea’s announcement that it will resume the death penalty more than half a century since it last carried out an execution, stressing this would represent “a major setback” for the country.
“The High Commissioner has written to the Prime Minister stating her concerns about the planned resumption of the death penalty, and is calling on the Government to maintain its moratorium and subsequently join the growing number of Member States that have abolished the practice altogether, including 11 States in the Pacific,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, during a press briefing in Geneva.
Papua New Guinea has maintained a long-standing de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 1954, which was subsequently passed into law in 1970.
“Resuming the death penalty again would be a major setback, especially after so many other States have subsequently abolished the death penalty or adopted moratoriums,” Mr. Colville said.
“While recognizing the challenge presented by the recent alarming rise in violent crime in Papua New Guinea, including rape, torture and murder, the use of capital punishment has never been proved to be a more effective deterrent than other forms of punishment,” he added.
In the same briefing, Mr. Colville also drew attention to the rise in executions in Indonesia, where four men have been executed since the country resumed the death penalty in March.
“It is a very unfortunate development as Indonesia was close to establishing a moratorium on executions.”
Indonesia had not carried out any executions since 2008. In January, Ms. Pillay urged the authorities not to carry out any further executions following the Government’s announcement that it would execute 10 convicted criminals.
Since 2007, the General Assembly has adopted four resolutions calling on States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its abolition. Today about 150 of the UN’s 193 Member States have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it.