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December 7, 2021
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Conference aims to find way forward to address sorcery related killings

A three day meeting in Lae is seeking views from churches to find a way to address sorcery related killings in Papua New Guinea.

The group which includes the heads of the Lutheran, Catholic, United and Pentecostal churches is looking at possibilities that could involve awareness or funding of existing programs aimed at changing the mindset of possible offenders.

“The question is how do we get people to change their mindsets,” said Secretary for Welfare and Community Development Anna Solomon.

“I’ve shared my experiences from where I come from where people blame deaths on socery.”

The conference has also brought together key architects of the law , including the Justice Secretary, Dr. Lawrence Kalinoe, and the Secretary of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission, Dr. Eric Kwa.

“The law was not able to deal with the situation,” said Dr. Kwa.

“The churches have to, now, rise up and help us address this problem.”

In 2013, Parliament repealed the Sorcery Act of 1971 which, according to lawmakers, protects offenders who can use sorcery as an excuse to conduct violence.

While the conference has sanitised sorcery related violence, the realities remain. In video footage posted on Youtube women accused of sorcery are tortured in the most brutal manner. Their bodies are burned and cut with bush knifes. This is one of many videos recorded and shared by offenders.

Azaria Sam, a village magistrate in Lae has seen several instances where people accused have been threatened and attacked.

“In March, four people were killed,” he said. “I had to have one of the accused locked up in jail for his own protection.”

At the end of three days, the conference will hopefully prepare a package for legislators and policy makers that will see churches use their influence to stem the violence.

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