New Guinea archbishop urges govt to abolish death penalty

Death penalty not an effective deterent says Archbishop Clyde Igara

The Archbishop of Papua New Guinea has urged parliament to abolish the death penalty in the Pacific island nation, following the international backlash against neighboring Indonesia following the execution of nine narcotics traffickers. The Most Rev. Clyde Ingara urged the government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to rethink his government’s reintroduction of the death penalty saying it was not an effective deterrent against crime and that it was possible for murderers to repent and reform whilst in prison. After a series of witch killings and gang rapes, the PNG parliament voted in May 2013 to reaffirm the country’s death-penalty laws, unused since 1954, and to make murder, rape and robbery punishable by hanging or execution by firing squad. Thirteen men are currently awaiting execution. The uproar over the execution in Indonesia of Australian, Brazilian and Dutch drug smugglers had led the government to rethink the law. “We certainly do not want to be seen as a country that is actively promoting the death penalty as a means of enforcing law and order in the country,” Mr. O’Neill told The Wall Street Journal. “We are actively debating the death-penalty issue in the government caucuses at present, and there may be some need for review.” Archbishop Igara said that as PNG was a “Christian nation” it was wrong to execute criminals. The uproar over the execution of the Bali 9 “has opened the eyes of the Prime Minister and he wants it to be reviewed. It is timely for the church to have more input into this,’’ Archbishop Igara told the Post-Courier. “If I, as a church leader, push for this to be implemented, I’ve failed my responsibility as a church leader in not saving a life,’’ he said. The church was remiss in not speaking out against capital punishment in 2013, and “now was the time” for it to take a stand, he said.

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