31 Jul 2014

PNG govt accused of not doing enough to address sorcery violence

11:01 am on 31 July 2014

The director of Papua New Guinea's Institute of National Affairs is calling for the government to do more in combatting escalating numbers of sorcery-related deaths in the country.

Paul Barker says fear of sorcery seems to have increased, which could be a result of more unexplained deaths partly due to declining rural health services.

He says there needs to be more education and awareness that sorcery is not causing these deaths, and more resources put into community development.

"You've got a community development department which really needs to be taking a lead role in this, but they are very under-resourced both at a national level and a provincial level. At the moment it is an embarrassment and some players in government seem more inclined to just brush it under the carpet rather than address it."

Paul Barker says the government has been rolling out family units in police stations around the country.

But he says some police have been perpetrators against alleged sorcerers themselves, which needs addressing.

 A photo taken on February 6, 2013 shows a young mother accused of sorcery who was stripped naked, reportedly tortured with a branding iron, tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres, in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

A photo taken on February 6, 2013 shows a young mother accused of sorcery who was stripped naked, reportedly tortured with a branding iron, tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres, in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Photo: POST COURIER / AFP