«

»

Apr 14 2013

Print this Post

Papua New Guinea Considers Repealing Sorcery Law

NY Times – By MATT SIEGEL – Published: April 12, 2013

 

SYDNEY, Australia — Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has vowed to repeal the country’s controversial Sorcery Act after the latest in a string of brutal public killings of people accused of practicing black magic.

According to Amnesty International, violence against those accused of sorcery is endemic in the South Pacific island nation. In the most recent case, an elderly former primary school teacher in the autonomous Bougainville region was decapitated by a mob whose members accused her of using witchcraft to kill a colleague. Three other women, all relatives of the victim, were also injured in the episode.

Mr. O’Neill, responding on Thursday to a question from a reporter about that killing, pledged to repeal the 1971 Sorcery Act, which criminalizes the practice of sorcery and recognizes the accusation of sorcery as a defense in murder cases. Critics of the law say that it encourages violence against people accused of being sorcerers by codifying black magic as a legal phenomenon.

“We have quite a lot of issues on the table, so please give us a chance to work on it,” Mr. O’Neill told the reporter. “Realistically, a few sessions away, we will be able to put an act to Parliament to stop this nonsense about witchcraft and all the other sorceries that are really barbaric in itself.”

Over the last year, Papua New Guinea has come under increased international pressure to end what appears to be a growing trend of vigilante violence against people accused of sorcery. Last July, police officers arrested 29 members of a witch-hunting gang who were murdering and cannibalizing people they suspected of being sorcerers.

The killing in February of Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old woman who was stripped, tortured, doused in gasoline and then set ablaze, caused an international outcry. The United Nations said it was deeply disturbed by her killing, which was reportedly carried out by relatives of a 6-year-old boy who, they claimed, had been killed by her sorcery.

A crowd of several hundred people that had gathered to watch her execution blocked police officers and firefighters who tried to save her. The police have since charged two men in her death.

A United Nations inspector who visited the country in March said that attacks against alleged sorcerers are often carried out by young men and boys acting on the instruction of their community and under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 13, 2013, on page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Papua New Guinea: Prime Minister Says He Wants to Repeal Sorcery Law.

Permanent link to this article: http://americansatanism.com/archives/674

Rimons twitter widget by Rimon Habib