Conversation Series: Death Penalty Holdouts in the South Pacific

Actions and Detail Panel


Event Information

Share this event

Date and time



Online event

Event description
Join us for the next instalment of the Conversation Series, delivered by Eleos Justice and Capital Punishment Justice Project.

About this event

Papua New Guinea and Tonga are the sole remaining Pacific Island states which retain capital punishment. Papua New Guinea last executed a prisoner in 1954, whereas Tonga last executed in 1982, yet both states remain outwardly enthusiastic about death penalty retention and demonstrate no intention to abolish in law in the immediate future. Within this article, I analyse the past and present death penalty politics of Pacific Island states through the lens of the global literature on retention and abolition (e.g. Greenberg & West 2008; Neumayer 2008; Anckar 2004) to determine why it is that Papua New Guinea and Tonga have charted a different path than their geographical, cultural and historical neighbours such as Samoa, Solomon Islands and Fiji, among others.

The importance of abolition in the Pacific to Australia's foreign policy, despite the region's lack of executions for some time, was discussed in the Australian Parliament's 2016 report 'A World Without the Death Penalty'. Surrounded by their own abolitionist hinterland, Papua New Guinea and Tonga should, in theory, find it easier to abolish capital punishment than Australia's Asian neighbours which execute frequently, such as Singapore, Vietnam or Indonesia. To that end, it is vital to understand the justifications for retention and distinguishing features of the 'holdout' states Papua New Guinea and Tonga, within an otherwise entirely abolitionist region.

Conversation Series’ brings together brightest thinkers and sharpest minds—academics, practitioners, advocates—to weigh in on topical issues pertaining to the death penalty in the Asia Pacific region. This Series is delivered by Monash Faculty of Law and Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP)™.


Daniel Pascoe

Associate Professor of Law at City University of Hong Kong , @DC_Pascoe

Daniel joined the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong in 2014 as an Assistant Professor, being promoted to Associate Professor in 2020. Daniel’s research focuses on criminal law and punishment in comparative perspective, also extending to Southeast Asian law, Islamic Law, transitional justice and legal pedagogy. His research on the death penalty has appeared in various periodicals including the Asian Journal of Law and Society, The International Journal of Human Rights, The Australian Journal of Asian Law and the International and Comparative Law Quarterly. Daniel's written submission and oral testimony contributed to the Australian Parliament's 2016 report 'A World Without the Death Penalty'.


Mai Sato, Director, Eleos Justice; Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Monash University @drmaisato

About Eleos Justice

Eleos Justice carries out evidence-based research, teaching, and advocacy on the death penalty. Check out the launch of Eleos Justice here.

		Conversation Series: Death Penalty Holdouts in the South Pacific image

Contact us

About the Event:


Phone: 03 9905 5631

About Eleos Justice - @EleosJustice

Mai Sato


About CPJP - @cpjp_org_au

Simone Abel

Share with friends

Date and time


Online event

Save This Event

Event Saved