Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


PNG to revive death penalty, repeal sorcery laws

01 May 2013, 11:17

Sydney - Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has announced a renewed push for the death penalty, and life sentences for rape, saying that "draconian" penalties were needed to tackle violent crime.

O'Neill said the impoverished Pacific nation would also repeal its controversial Sorcery Act, meaning any black magic killing would be treated as murder, while unveiling tough new punishments for drug and alcohol offences.

It follows a spate of horrific crimes against women including a beheading and the burning alive of a mother accused of witchcraft, as well as the gang rape of two foreigners last month, drawing international condemnation.

"There will be maximum penalties that have never been seen before in this country," O'Neill said, according to PNG media reports Wednesday.

"We are serious about addressing this issue. We will regulate and pass laws that some people in our country may find draconian. But the people are demanding it."

The PNG government has received more than 100 petitions from human rights and other groups across the globe calling for urgent action on the spike in violence this year.

In February a 20-year-old mother accused of witchcraft was stripped and burned alive in front of a crowd at a village market and an elderly woman was beheaded last month after being accused of black magic.

Also in April, an Australian was murdered and his friend sexually assaulted by a group of men, followed barely a week later by the ambush of the US researcher, her husband and their guide on a wilderness track.

Central to the law and order push is a drive to revive the death penalty, which is currently in place for treason, piracy and wilful murder but has not been used since 1954, when PNG last carried out an execution.

O'Neill said the government would "strengthen it further" by reviewing existing laws to allow for its "full implementation", though it was not clear whether the scope of offences punishable by death would be broadened.

Any killing linked to accusations of sorcery would now be treated as a murder under a repeal of the Sorcery Act, which international human rights groups and the United Nations have been lobbying for.

Though it criminalises the practice of sorcery -- in which there is a widespread belief in PNG, where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune and death -- the 1974 act has been criticised.

Human rights groups said it led to an increase in false accusations by people against their enemies and gave the notion of sorcery a legitimacy it would not otherwise have had.

All rapes including those carried out in gangs would attract a penalty of life in prison without parole, with a new maximum 20-year jail term for making home-brew liquor and a ban on selling alcohol between 2:00 am and noon.

Marijuana and other drug cultivation would be punishable by 50 years in prison; consumption of drugs would have a maximum 10-year jail term.

O'Neill said he would also propose the establishment of an isolated island prison for high-risk offenders including murderers and those serving a life sentence.

"I want to assure the country that we will review some of the legislation in respect of some of the behaviour that is now happening," O'Neill said.

The reforms are expected to come before PNG's parliament for debate later this month.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...