27 Nov 2014

Vanuatu urged to act over sorcery claims

5:20 pm on 27 November 2014

The author of a report into sorcery and criminal law in Vanuatu says the state has a role to play in protecting people from malicious accusations of black magic.

The Australian National University's Miranda Forsyth says marginalised members of communities, including women and the elderly, are often accused of sorcery or witchcraft.

Her comments follow the arrest of a group of church pastors and custom chiefs in Malekula for allegedly ordering the hanging of two men who they had claimed were practising black magic.

Dr Forsyth says sometimes people who make accusations of witchcraft have ulterior motives, including envy or jealousy.

"The state has a role to play in saying well, for example ' you can't make malicious accusations of sorcery and witchcraft' or 'you shouldn't incite violence against people accused of sorcery and witchcraft".

Australian National University's Miranda Forsyth.