From Radio New Zealand International comes news from Papua New Guinea’s sorcery violence-related conference, currently underway.
Earlier this year Papua New Guinea repealed the 1971 Sorcery Act, making killings stemming from an accusation of witchcraft treatable as murder. This is, of course, a good thing. That act of law originally stated as fact that sorcery existed and evil sorcery was a crime, making accusations of sorcery a useful defence in murder cases brought before village courts. In the wake of a series of horrible incidents this year – a public burning of a young mother at the stake, a beheading of a retired teacher, and the kidnap and torture by hot irons of six women and one man – the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill set in motion the events that saw the law’s demise.
[The secretary to the department of justice and attorney general, Lawrence Kalinoe] says the government’s ultimate goal is to dispel people’s belief in sorcery.
But Dr Kalinoe says legislation is only part of the solution.
“Some of these bad customs like sorcery have been maintained in the pretext that it’s part of our cultural heritage. It is for that reason I said, ‘Enough of this nonsense.’ I think we need to move on. Papua New Guinea is now much more enlightened than it was.”
All good stuff and it’s nice to see Papua New Guinea moving in the right direction.
Lawrence Kalinoe says belief in Christianity will do more for people than sorcery.