PORT MORESBY, 02 JULY 2019 (THE NATIONAL) — Papua New Guinea Parliament will continue to debate whether the death penalty is maintained in the criminal code, Prime Minister James Marape says.

Marape was responding to NCD Governor Powes Parkop’s questions about 11 prisoners who had been on death row for over 10 years.

He said Parliament would decide whether to change the laws.

“They have committed crimes that warrant that penalty.

“These prisoners would be happy that Parliament had never really deliberated on the method of execution.

“Those on death row have been given mercy and extended life because Parliament was not able to secure the path to termination of life,” he said.

Marape said there was study made to find out different forms of termination of life but Parliament had not made any decision on it. “I will allow Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven to pick up this conversation and for us to decide whether we still maintain the death penalty or shift away from that to life imprisonment.

“It’s something that the wisdom of this Parliament must direct as to how these laws are fully implemented or reconstructed for the betterment of the country.

“Having safer laws and stronger penalties is something that we must have. “We already have the death penalty in our criminal code so those are put in place as a deterrent for crimes of that magnitude,” he said.

Marape said law and order was a big issue in the country.

The reason for the long delay was because the method of execution had not been decided.

“I’ve instructed the Correctional Services Minister Chris Nangoi to convert prisons into an industry.

“We must re-educate them (prisoners) with some technical and vocational skills.

“Most prisons have land and prisoners are being fed and clothed free of charge so why not allow them to contribute back to civil society.”

In the instance of those on death row, Parliament can debate on this. We are a Christian country but justice must be done.

“Greater consensus of Parliament must decide the way forward,” Marape said.

Meanwhile, the death penalty is applicable to crimes that warrant extreme penalties and Parliament is entitled to include that in the penalty provisions, Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven said.

Steven also, the Justice Minister and Attorney-General, said Parliament was entitled to include the change in the body of laws.

“The question now is when do we implement it when the National Executive Council (NEC) approves the method of execution?” he said.

“One of the last submissions I signed before I resigned (recently from Cabinet) was to brief the NEC on the exact progress status of this particular law.

“We spent K2 million (US$589,000) and sent our officials on a fact-finding mission overseas to come back and advise us on what we should do in terms of how we execute those who are on death row.” Steven said the National Court had directed the Government to relook at the provisions of the organic law relating to the power of mercy.

“These are legacy issues we will have to go through,” he said.

“The NEC must now make a decision and that submission is currently under preparation and I will present it to NEC when it is ready.

“The good thing is that whilst the law is available the judges have an option to impose it.

“We know in our jurisdictions that courts have imposed that penalty before that’s why we have people on death row. (PACNEWS)