Harsher penalties for gender-based, sorcery-related violence in PNG

4:26 pm on 9 July 2020

The Papua New Guinea government has amended the Criminal Code to increase penalties for gender based and sorcery related violence.

Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Minister and Attorney General, Davis Steven.

Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Minister and Attorney General, Davis Steven. Photo: PNG PM Media Unit

Justice Minister Davis Steven said the government was focused on tackling violence against women; a likely response to public outcry over the recent death of mother of two, Jenelyn Kennedy.

The minister told the Post Courier that while the words gender based and sorcery related had not been inserted into the code, the penalty for willful murder through such violence had increased to life imprisonment.

The amendment would give the courts discretion to increase penalties, if they decided crimes fell into those categories, he said.

But what is needed is more enforcement, according to the president PNG Women Lawyers Association Pauline Toliman Mogish.

Ms Toliman told the National enforcement would, "ensure justice is served when a gender-based or domestic violence case is reported for the first time".

Meanwhile, Mr Steven told PNG Today prisoners on death row would be executed, although cabinet was still debating how the executions would be carried out.

However, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission was considering whether the death penalty should be retained in PNG law, he said

Earlier this month the MP for Wewak in West Sepik province, Kevin Isifu was appointed chair of the commission, which Mr Steven said

in February, would conduct a nationwide consultation on the death penalty.

The death penalty was revived by the government in 2013 in response to a spate of sorcery-related killings but no executions have been carried out in PNG since 1954.

About 20 people are thought to be on death row.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs