You do the crime, you do the time

Editorial, Normal

ONE has deliberately infected innocent women with the incurable HIV.
The other is implicated in two of the biggest bank robberies and perhaps one other major gold heist.
Now both beg forgiveness from PNG.
Hands up, those of you big-hearted Christians who are willing to forgive and forget.
We are not certain there is going to be a big show of hands on this issue.
This country has seen far too many of the two kinds of people portrayed side by side on our front page yesterday.
Actually, it is not certain whether the person who reportedly called the National Broadcasting Commission to beg the country’s forgiveness for a spate of robberies is indeed William Kapris Nanua.
If indeed, it was Kapris and he wants forgiveness, all he has to do is confess his crime so that public funds are not wasted on a lengthy trial. There might be other crimes that police have not attributed to him. He can confess all that also to show his good faith and genuine change of heart.
Of course he must return whatever is left of the funds or goods stolen, if indeed, he did steal them.
To show genuine remorse, he must also agree to accept whatever punishment is dished out to him. We are certain such an act will weigh well in his favour when the case of the people versus William Kapris Nanua goes to trial.
The other repentant, 26-year-old Siassi Island man Nicholas Senet, who confessed to knowingly infecting a number of innocent women with the AIDS virus, we have nothing but contempt for.
While his sex partners were enjoying a stormy session of passion, he was calculatingly and perhaps with some gloating and perverse pleasure, implanting the virus that would, in time, take the lives of those partners.
The HIV/AIDS Act 2003 defines intentional transmission of the virus as an assault or attempted assault within the meaning of Section 340 of the Criminal Code.
The particular provision of the Code prescribes a penalty of three years for such a crime. We think this provision is too lenient as any intentional transmission is a virtual death sentence because there is no cure for the virus. This newspaper submits that this particular provision of the Act needs to be amended and removed.
In the event where death occurs – which of course is the guaranteed result of all HIV transmissions – the Act prescribes that it is an act of unlawful killing and incurs penalties prescribed under Section 298 of the Criminal Code.
The Criminal Code prescribes the death penalty for willful murder which must apply in the case under discussion since, for a period of three years. Senet has been having multiple sex partners with the confessed intention that “they would feel my pain”.
It is a defence under the law if the other person was aware of the risk of infection by HIV and voluntarily accepted the risk. By his own confession, Senet’s partners did not know.
It is also a relief if the other person was already infected with HIV.
It might also be a defence if transmission or attempted transmission occurred during sexual intercourse where a condom or other effective means of prevention was used.
The law compels a carrier or sufferer to take all reasonable measures and precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV to others. This, we are led to believe, Senet failed miserably to do.
The HIV/AIDS law is far too lenient on this kind of crime. The Act was drafted, it would appear, with the intention of protecting HIV carriers and AIDs sufferers against discrimination, forced testing and unauthorised disclosure.
It is too lenient on people in Senet’s shoes who have gone around willfully infecting innocent people.
Yet we have heard of far too many stories which are similar to Senet’s.
There was the woman in Manus, who while dying on a sick bed, announced that scores of men would follow her because she had given the virus to them.
There was the man who, knowing he had the virus, picked up K20,000 from the NCD and spent it on hire cars and women all up and down the Waghi Valley.
Many more such stories abound.
Such actions translate, in the final analysis, to willful murder and the law should not wait for the victim to finally succumb to HIV related illnesses before applying the law. Persons so charged and proven to have committed intentional transmission ought to be offered the maximum penalty under the law for willful murder.