Call for more resources to PNG to stop sorcery attacks

7:42 am on 18 October 2016

Police need more resources to fight sorcery-related violence, says an activist working to support social education and maternal health in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea police officers marching in a parade

Papua New Guinea police officers marching in a parade Photo: Supplied

Ruth Kissam, who works with the PNG Tribal Foundation NGO, has been raising awareness of sorcery attacks and has highlighted the case of a man buried alive in a remote village of Jiwaka province two weeks ago.

Ms Kissam said police were investigating but were barely able to penetrate the remote district where the attack occurred, and the force only had one vehicle.

"And the (police) office in charge of crimes sometimes needs it [the vehicle] but cannot be able to get it because other priorities from higher ranking officers always precedes this. So you can just imagine everyone fighting for that one vehicle, and the 14 hours that it would take from the police station up to the remote village ... terribly under-resourced."

Ms Kissam recently went to the village where she learnt that the alleged perpatrator of the attack had been cutting off hands of elderly people and terrorising the community.

She said police needed the community's help in order to bring killers to justice.

Ruth Kissam says a collective approach is needed to change mindsets about sorcery, involving police, government and civil society.

Ms Kissam said in some parts of the Highlands police have begun to take out orders against village councillors in order to get their co-operation in prosecuting sorcery-related attacks.

"The more we make noise about it and people talk about it, it might sink in that it's not right to kill people. Everyone here thinks that it's a way of life for us - it's been practised for all these years and then we can do that and get away with it - but no it's not."

Ms Kissam said a collective approach is needed to change mindsets about sorcery, involving police, government and civil society.

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