17 Feb 2009

A PNG researcher says police and villagers are afraid of those making sorcery accusations

3:08 pm on 17 February 2009

A researcher in Papua New Guinea says police and villagers are too afraid to speak out against the killing of those accused of sorcery.

Amnesty International has called on the government, police and judiciary to do more to stop a resurgence of sorcery-related murders that's reportedly seen more than 50 deaths in the past year.

But Father Franco Zocca, a Catholic Church researcher at the Melanesian Institute says the police are afraid of being attacked by sorcerers if they stand up to them, and villagers are also afraid to give evidence.

And he says the attitudes of the police are hindering attempts to investigate the crimes.

"The police believe in the sorcery, believe that people are really killing others through magical ways, through sorcery. They believe that so they feel that those who are killed, accused of sorcery, deserve to die."

Father Zocca says there needs to be a law change to make it a crime to accuse people of sorcery.