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Papua New Guinea officially repeals death penalty 30 years after reintroducing it

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Papua New Guinea has repealed the death penalty 30 years after reintroducing it. The country’s leader says it wasn’t an effective deterrent to serious crime.

Prime Minister James Marape says offenses such as treason, piracy, and murder will now be punishable by life imprisonment without parole, or parole after 30 years.

This includes what’s described as ‘sorcery-related violence.’ Officials say every year, thousands of suspected "witches" and "sorcerers" are attacked.

Few cases are prosecuted in the island nation of 9 million people, located about 1,500 miles north of Australia.

The country abolished capital punishment in 1970 but reintroduced it in 1991. There have been no executions since then.

The Guardian reports the last execution for any crime in Papua New Guinea took place in 1954 in its capital of Port Moresby.

Marape says the death penalty “is not an effective deterrent to serious crime and offenses. For us as a Christian nation, the notion of ‘thou shall not kill’ still prevails.”

Members of the Catholic Church, which has previously spoken out against capital punishment, welcomed the repeal.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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