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Press briefing notes

Press briefing note on Papua New Guinea / sorcery

08 February 2013

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 8 February 2013
Subjects: 1) Papua New Guinea / sorcery

1) Papua New Guinea / sorcery

We are deeply disturbed by reports of the torture and killing of a 20-year-old woman accused of sorcery in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea, on 6 February. According to reports, Ms Kepari Leniata was burnt alive in front of a crowd by relatives of a six-year old boy whom she was accused of using sorcery to kill, while attempts by law enforcement officials to intervene failed.

We note with great concern that this case adds to the growing pattern of vigilante attacks and killings of persons accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea.

We urge the Government to put an end to these crimes and to bring perpetrators of attacks and killings to justice through thorough, prompt and impartial investigations in accordance with international law.

We also call on the authorities to demonstrate their political will in concretely addressing the issue through a multi-pronged approach. We urge the Government to take urgent action to prevent further cases through education, to provide protection to persons accused of sorcery and witnesses of sorcery-related killings, and to provide medical and psychosocial treatment for victims.

The Constitutional Law Reform Commission, whose report has yet to be presented to Parliament, has held consultations to review the Sorcery Act (which contains the crime of sorcery) and said the Sorcery Act should be repealed. In the light of the heinous crime which has been committed, we encourage the authorities to hasten the process to strengthen the legal response to such killings.


For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / [email protected]) or Cécile Pouilly (+ 41 22 917 9310 / [email protected])

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