Papua New Guinea (PNG) must tackle the scourge of sorcery-related murder, the UN said yesterday, after an elderly woman was beheaded in the Pacific nation.
The UN demanded an end to extra-judicial killings linked to accusations of sorcery and renewed calls for the government to repeal the Sorcery Act 1971, introduced to aid the passage of witchcraft cases through the courts.
While the act criminalized the practice of sorcery, human rights groups say it has also led to an increase in false accusations by people against their enemies and has given the notion of sorcery a legitimacy it would not otherwise have had.
“The provision of protection to victims of sorcery-related violence must also be increased as a matter of urgency,” the UN said in a statement from Port Moresby. “The UN is deeply disturbed with the increasing reports of violence, torture and murder of persons accused of practising sorcery around the country.”
“These vigilante killings constitute murder and must not be treated with impunity,” it said, relating “another horrific case” this week.
In the Bana district of South Bougainville two women accused of sorcery were kidnapped and tortured before one was beheaded.