Papua New Guinea: Dozens killed for witchcraft, Amnesty calls on authorities to intervene
Posted: 11 February 2009
The government of Papua New Guinea must act now to end a rash of more than 50 killings related to allegations of sorcery, Amnesty International said today.
The murder of a father and son in Ban village, a few kilometres from Mount Hagen on Sunday is the latest sorcery-related killing to come to light.
Local men shot dead 60-year old Plak Mel Doa and threw his body into a fire whilst his son, Anis Dua, was dragged from his home and burnt alive. Local people accused them of causing the death of a prominent member of the community by sorcery.
Apolosi Bose, Amnesty International's Pacific Islands researcher, said:
'When dozens of people have been killed after literal witch hunts, it's clear that the government is not doing enough to protect its own citizens and maintain the rule of law.
'The police and judicial authorities have to step in immediately before another person faces this kind of vigilante violence.'
Amnesty International pointed out that the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) is often unable to enforce the law. For instance, after the 8 February killings, police reported they wanted to visit the crime scene and confirm the men's deaths, but heavily armed locals prevented them from removing the bodies to hospital for autopsies.
Apolosi Bose added:
'People often don't trust the police or the judiciary and instead blame events on supernatural causes and punish suspected sorcerers.
'The Constabulary, the Public Prosecution Office and other relevant authorities should step up efforts to curb vigilante violence and raise awareness in communities about ways in which people can legitimately seek justice.'
Amnesty International calls on the RPNGC to vigorously pursue investigations of all cases and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.