PORT MORESBY (Pacific Media Watch / The Australian / Radio New Zealand International): The Papua New Guinean Opposition Leader, Belden Namah, has criticised the government's new "cyber crime" policy, saying it will have a chilling effect on dissenters who use social media to voice complaints about the ruling party.
Namah told Radio NZ International that the new policy will block freedom of speech on social media.
"My personal opinion is [that it's] encroaching into freedom of expression and freedom of speech and for a democracy like Papua New Guinea it is very dangerous and I don't think it's the best thing to do for the country," Namah said.
The Australian newspaper reported that under the new policy, it will be a criminal offence for people to use pseudonyms on social media, and that the police would be granted extra powers to access citizens' computers, tablets and mobile phones “should there be reasons to believe that they have been used to commit an offence”.
The PNG government will also start registering all SIM cards in the country, and soon nobody will be able to buy a SIM card without producing identification.
The government is also considering doing "full biometric scans" of all SIM card buyers, The Australian reported.
Meanwhile, a new policy on the death penalty is being drawn up by PNG lawmakers and will soon be submitted to cabinet, Radio New Zealand International reported.
The justice minister said the government would decide whether to use "lethal injection, firing squad, deprivation of oxygen, hanging or electrocution" as the execution method.
The government hadn't decided yet and one of the considerations will be "resources available", the Justice Minister Kerenga Kua told RNZI's Mary Baines.
He said it was very important to introduce the death penalty in PNG despite "dissenting views from foreign governments...and human rights groups".
"The state in its own sovereign right has determined to go ahead with this process" Kua said.
Just the debate on the death penalty had already prevented many "gruesome crimes" and deterred many would-be criminals, he added.
There are 13 prisoners on death row in Papua New Guinea at the moment, some of whom have been awaiting execution for more than a decade.
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