IBAHRI applauds Papua New Guinea’s decision to abolish the death penalty

Tuesday 22 February 2022

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) commends the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea’s decision to repeal the death penalty. Offences such as murder, treason, piracy and aggravated rape will now be punishable by life imprisonment without parole, or parole after 30 years.

IBAHRI Co-chair and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, commented: ‘We support Prime Minister Marape’s position on capital punishment, which is consistent with global trends and studies that indicate the death penalty is not an effective deterrent to serious crime. The IBAHRI welcomes the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea’s decision to abolish capital punishment and we call on the Government to reinforce its commitment to abolition by ratifying the ​​​​​​​Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without delay.’

The National Parliament of Papua New Guinea voted on 20 January 2022 to amend the Criminal Code Act to repeal the death penalty. The vote follows Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court of Justice’s judgment of 30 July 2021 in the case of Independent State of Papua New Guinea v Tamate, which quashed the National Court’s temporary stay of execution of death row prisoners. The ruling stated that the National Court did not have jurisdiction at the time to commence the proceedings on its own initiative under Section 57(1) of the Constitution.

The January vote marks the second time that capital punishment has been abolished in Papua New Guinea. The death penalty was first abolished in 1970 but reinstated in 1991, with the last execution taking place in 1954. In 2013, Papua New Guinea broadened the number of crimes to which the death penalty applied.

IBAHRI Co-Chair Mark Stephens CBE stated: ‘With the National Parliament’s vote, Papua New Guinea joins the global movement towards abolition, upholding human rights and the rule of law. The death penalty violates a person’s right to life as stipulated in the ​​​​​​​Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We encourage States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to follow the example that Papua New Guinea has set and establish a moratorium on executions with a view to full abolition.’ 

Welcoming the vote, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted that 170 of 193 UN Member States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it.


Notes to the Editor

  1. On 15 May 2008, the IBAHRI Council adopted its Resolution on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, which considers, inter alia, the clear trend towards viewing the death penalty as a breach of international human rights standards, as well as committing the IBAHRI to actively promoting the abolition of the death penalty.
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  3. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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  5. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. ​​​​​​

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.
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​​​For further information, please contact: the IBA Human Rights Institute at IBAHRI@int-bar.org

Website page link for this news release:
Short link:  https://tinyurl.com/3524zp58
Full link:  https://www.ibanet.org/IBAHRI-applauds-Papua-New-Guineas-decision-to-abolish-the-death-penalty