By 3 News online staff
Amnesty International has condemned Papua New Guinea's [PNG] decision to expand its use of the death penalty to a wider range of crimes, saying it is a "horrific and regressive step".
Following a series of horrific murders and sex crimes, PNG's Parliament yesterday voted to make rape, robbery and sorcery-related murder punishable by death.
The laws also introduce new methods of execution including hanging, lethal injection, electrocution, firing squad and "medical death by deprivation of oxygen".
Amnesty International's deputy director for the Asia-Pacific Isabelle Arradon says the penalty is a violation of human rights.
"Papua New Guinea has taken one step forward in protecting women from violence by repealing the Sorcery Act, but several giant steps back by moving closer to executions," says Ms Arradon.
The Asia-Pacific nation has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, after a number of brutal killings of women accused of sorcery.
"We are horrified that the government is attempting to end one of form of violence by perpetrating state-sanctioned violence," says Ms Arradon.
Despite the death penalty already existing in PNG, there have been no executions since the country's independence in 1954.
Amnesty International says numerous religious groups and women's organisations in PNG have publicly opposed the new laws.
"More and more countries today move away from the death penalty, in part because there are no assurances that it is an effective deterrent to crime," says Ms Arradon. "By passing these death penalty laws today, Papua New Guinea will find it is on the losing side of history."
Amnesty International believes the death penalty is "the ultimate denial of human rights" and opposes it in all cases, regardless of the crime.
The last known execution to take place in the Pacific was in Tonga in 1982.
There are currently at least 10 people on death row in PNG.