The first reading of amendments to the penal code to put the death penalty into effect took place in the Kiribati parliament late last month.
Kiribati's President Anote Tong told Jemima Garrett the amendments are now going out for community consultation.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Speaker: Anote Tong, President, Kiribati
TONG: What we need to do is actually refer it to the public to see what the reaction is. I think at the second reading in the next parliament, maybe not even the next parliament session, because we are suggesting that is be referred for wider public debate, and I think following that, following some better assessment of what the public opinion is, then a decision will be taken but the legislation has not been introduced it is still in the process of the first reading process.
GARRETT: What is motivating this legislation?
TONG: Well there are some incidents which are really generating public reaction to some of the gruesome murders that have taken place. There is a feeling that the punishment given to people who are give a life sentence, because murder attracts a life sentence. Now you have different levels of murder and what people are saying is, you know there should be different degrees of punishment also given the severity and the gruesomeness or the brutality of the act.
GARRETT: A number of women have been killed in Kiribati in domestic violence incidents. To what extent is that a motivating factor for the new legislation?
TONG: Definitely the two events that have taken place most recently were two women killed, very very much in cold blood so that has contributed very, very significantly to public opinion at the moment.
GARRETT: Critics argue there is a risk that courts might hand out the wrong verdict. How do you respond to that?
TONG: Well, I don't know. I think much depends on how the legislation is framed. I am sure there are ways of framing the legislation but i am not in a position to say that the legislation will pass but proponents are saying we can put it in such a way that the judges will have no room for mistake.
GARRETT: How long will the community have to put their views into the legislation?
TONG: There is discussion, even of a referendum, perhaps we won't go that far but yes, it is seriously under consideration.