Sorcery-related killings seen as both criminal and civil cases


Sorcery-related killings are not only criminal but civil matters that include the violation of the human rights of the victims, says a human rights judge.
Justice David Cannings said that people who were tortured or mistreated due to allegations of practising sorcery, should seek the court’s assistance for the enforcement of their human rights.
“If you are suspected to be a sorcerer and subjected to torture or mistreatment, you can come to court and apply for enforcement for the human rights to be free of this intimidation, threats, assaults and torture from other members of your community who have come with that allegation and that could be easily be dealt with,” Cannings said.
“No person should be subjected to those sort of intimidation, as we know we have a big problem in PNG with people taking the law into their own hands and going after suspected sorcerers, it’s a huge problem.” Justice Cannings said there was a genuine belief in sorcery in the minds of many Papua New Guineans, which an offender might argue in court that his actions were according to his religious beliefs in sorcery, however, “the court has to sometimes balance this human rights and that’s the role of the judges.”
“The perpetrator in the violence might say that I’m practising my religious beliefs in sorcery, and I genuinely believe in sorcery and that’s a part of my spiritual and religious belief and I have the right to practice that in Papua New Guinea.”