PNG struggling to stop sorcery-related killings

11:54 am on 14 October 2016

The Papua New Guinea Catholic church says reports of sorcery-related attacks do not appear to be waning, despite awareness efforts.

Catholic Church

A forum against sorcery related violence was held by the Catholic Bishop of Mendi in October last year. Photo: PHOTO NZ

In the past couple of years various churches in PNG have led campaigns to teach rural communities that attacks against people for so-called sorcery are a crime.

However reports of such attacks continue to filter through, including this month's revelation of a Lutheran Pastor buried alive in Jiwaka province for allegedly using sorcery.

The general-secretary of PNG's Conference of Catholic Bishops, Father Victor Roche, said such cases appear to be on the increase in the Highlands region

"In spite of all the efforts by the churches and by the government, the cases are not going down, the killings are not going down. And the churches are doing their best because recently we had seminars, awareness workshops and still the grassroots have not reached these kinds of awareness."

Father Roche said the country is struggling to change entrenched cultural beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery in PNG.

He said police are too under-resourced to penetrate these remote areas where some of the worst attacks take place, while MPs and local leaders are reluctant to take the issue on.

"I don't think the MPs will talk about this," he said. "I do not think it will be part of their agenda... for example elections are going to take place next year, and I don't think they're going to be talking about this."

Father Roche said churches, the pastors, the priests, had to preach more and do more in their communities to bring down the sorcery-related killings.

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