Sorcery killings in PNG linked to lack of development

8:18 pm on 14 October 2016

The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea says that in his view sorcery-related killings are a development issue.

The comment from Bishop Jack Urame comes after reports that a Lutheran pastor's assistant was buried alive after being alleged to have misused sorcery in a remote part of Jiwaka province.

Police in Jiwaka are restricted in their ability to penetrate remote parts and have appealed to the community in Jimi district to help bring the perpetrators of the killing to justice.

Bishop Urame said he feels that cases of such killings are on the rise.

He said that in remote areas where these attacks tend to take place, there's usually a lack of development, basic infrastructure and access to health and education facilities.

"People are suffering and in that suffering people try to find their own ways. And the danger is they go back and say yes, you can become rich when you believe in magical forces and apply magic and so on, and you can be successful. Or when things are not working out, they say spiritual forces are behind it and so on, so they continue to blame people and accuse one another and kill people and so on."

Bishop Urame said a collective approach was needed to address sorcery-related killings, involving government, churches, civil society and community leaders.

He said changing the mindsets of grassroots communities was critical to minimising the attacks, hence the importance of education.

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