EVEN as two Australians wait in a Bali prison for the Indonesian government to execute them, creating a storm of controversy in Australia and straining relationships between the two countries, the Papua New Guinea government is preparing to shoot, hang or administer deadly poison to 13 of its own people before the end of this year.
Radio Australia reported yesterday that Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, secretary of PNG's Justice Department, said people were fed up with serious crime and perpetrators should die.
"In this country we have very strong support for the implementation of the death penalty," he told Radio Australia.
Dr Kalinoe cited the example of a Port Moresby radio show he'd appeared on where 30 of 33 callers supported the death penalty, some even offering to be the executioner.
"The citizens of this country are serious in trying to make this place a just, safe and secure society," he said.
The comments came after the PNG government issued new guidelines for the implementation of the death penalty, approving three modes of execution - lethal injection, firing squad (as in Indonesia) and hanging.
It seems that the bottleneck in executing the luckless 13 people has been that PNG lacks the infrastructure to put them to death.
In an ironic twist, Radio Australia reported that Indonesia has come forward with an offer of financial assistance and expertise.
"Papua New Guinea, in particular Port Moresby, is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities of the world," Dr Kalinoe said.
"That's a label that we Papua New Guineans live with, sometimes we're very embarrassed."
Catholic Archbishop John Ribat has become the latest church leader to speak out against the death penalty and has called for more community discussion.
Crimes in PNG that could attract state execution include treason, piracy, wilful murder, aggravated rape, robbery involving violence, and sorcery-related killings.