Holdouts in the South Pacific: Explaining Death Penalty Retention in Papua New Guinea and Tonga
The South Pacific forms a cohesive region with broadly similar cultural attributes, legal systems and colonial histories. A comparative analysis starts from the assumption that these countries should also have similar criminal justice policies. However, until 2022, both Papua New Guinea and Tonga were retentionist death penalty outliers in the South Pacific, a region home to seven other fully abolitionist members of the United Nations. In this article, we use the comparative method to explain why Papua New Guinea and Tonga have pursued a different death penalty trajectory than their regional neighbours. Eschewing the traditional social science explanations for death penalty retention, we suggest two novel explanations for ongoing retention in Papua New Guinea and Tonga: the law and order crisis in the former and the traditionally powerful monarchy in the latter.
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