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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

PNG government defends death penalty as new guidelines approved

The Papua New Guinea government has defended its decision to reinstate the death penalty as the country prepares to execute 13 prisoners before the end of the year.

Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, secretary for the Department of Justice and attorney-general, said people had had enough of serious crime and perpetrators should die for their crimes.

"In this country we have very strong support for the implementation of the death penalty," Mr Kalinoe told the ABC's Radio Australia." For example, one of the (radio) talkback shows I went to, 33 people called. Of the 33, 3 opposed the death penalty, 30 of them fully supported the government's role, to actually offer to be the executioner.

"That's how serious the citizens of this country are, serious in trying to make this place, a just safe and secure society."

Mr Kalinoe's comments came after the government approved new guidelines for the implementation of death penalty.The death penalty has not been used in PNG for more than 50 years, but was re-enacted last year when the law was amended to include more offences. The National Executive Council then approved 3 modes of execution - lethal injection, firing squad and hanging.

Since then, 13 people have been waiting on death row, but lack of infrastructure has meant there has been no method to enact the capital punishment. Recent reports suggest both Indonesia and Thailand have stepped in with offers of financial assistance and expertise. Mr Kalinoe said the government wanted to make the country safer in re-enacting the death penalty.

"Papua New Guinea, in particular Port Moresby, is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities of the world," he said. "That's a label that us Papua New Guineans live with, sometimes we're very embarrassed ... what a beautiful country but our reputation, fairly or unfairly, has gotten ahead of us, making this place a very unsafe sort of a place to live in.

"One of [the government's aims] was to strengthen police, strengthen the law and justice sector and implement whatever laws we need to implement." 

Last week the Archbishop of the PNG Catholic Church, John Ribat, spoke out against the death penalty and called for more community discussion on the matter.

The crimes in PNG that could attract the death penalty for those convicted included: treason, piracy, wilful murder, aggravated rape, robbery involving violence, and sorcery-related killings.

Source: Radio Australia, Feb. 25, 2015

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