Friday, 9 January 2009 4:45 AM

Sorcery Killings on the Rise in PNG

The number of people being killed for being allegedly involved in sorcery has risen in Papua New Guinea, with more than 50 people in last year alone becoming victims.

According to Post Courier Online, Eastern Highlands provincial police commander, Teddy Tei, 'said more than 30 people were reportedly killed in the province while Chimbu police commander Joseph Tondop confirmed more than 20 cases', however, 'the two men said they believed there to be more cases that had not been reported to police'.

'Mr Tei, in condemning these brutal killings, said in some cases people suspected of sorcery were tied and burnt alive while others were simply killed in front of others'.
He said that 'the police were doing a lot of awareness on killing of innocent people and or repercussions on sorcery and murder but it seemed to have no effect on the people as the crime continued without a glimmer of change in the attitude of people'.

According to the report, Mr. Tei said, "I want the people of Eastern Highlands to know that sorcery in itself is a crime but it is hard to prove in court, but taking the law into their own hands does not make the killers free." He added that 'many of the sorcery suspects killed were innocent people'.

'Mr Tondop said sorcery was hard to address as it was alleged to follow bloodlines and practised against relatives and the retaliatory killings involved their immediate relatives'. He 'cited the death of former Chimbu administrator Joseph Bal as allegedly related to sorcery and an old man was killed and houses destroyed by relatives which saw to the arrest of suspects in that killing'.
'In the Western Highlands a young girl was set alight on Wednesday morning by suspects at the Kerebug rubbish dump and police are still investigating the incident'.

'Mr Tondop also said his men were carrying out awareness but to no effect and called on the community leaders to help police and discourage sorcery related killings'.