UN concern by killing of woman in PNG accused of sorcery

Updated at 9:35 am on 9 February 2013

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says it's disturbed by reports of the torture and killing of a woman accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea.

20 year-old Kepari Leniata was burnt alive on Wednesday in front of a crowd by relatives of a six-year old boy whom she was accused of using sorcery to kill.

Attempts by law enforcement officials to intervene failed.

The OHCHR says its concerned this case adds to the growing pattern of vigilante attacks and killings of persons accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea.

The UN body is urging the PNG government to put an end to these crimes and to bring perpetrators of attacks and killings to justice in accordance with international law.

A spokesperson Cécile Pouilly says they also call on the authorities to demonstrate their political will in concretely addressing the issue through a multi-pronged approach.

She says the government needs to take urgent action to prevent further cases through education, to provide protection to persons accused of sorcery and witnesses of sorcery-related killings, and to provide medical and psychosocial treatment for victims.

The Constitutional Law Reform Commission, whose report has yet to be presented to Parliament, has held consultations to review the Sorcery Act.

The OHCHR says in the light of the heinous crime which has been committed, it encourages the authorities to hasten the process to strengthen the legal response to such killings.

The United States of America has also condemned the killing, saying there is no possible justification for this sort of violence.

It says this incident once again highlights the need for comprehensive action to address the pervasive global problem of gender-based violence.

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