Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dozens of people have been brutally murdered in Papua New Guinea over allegations of witchcraft and sorcery, Amnesty International UK has said

The human rights group is calling on authorities to investigate up to 50 killings, the most recent of which took place at a village close to the base of Mount Hagen. According to Amnesty International, local men shot 60-year-old Plak Mel Doa and threw his body on to a fire before dragging his son Anis Dua out of his house and burning him alive. Both men had reportedly been suspected of causing the death of a member of the community through witchcraft. "When dozens of people have been killed after literal witch hunts, it's clear that the government is not doing enough to protect its own citizens and maintain the rule of law," said Amnesty International's Pacific Islands research Apolosi Bose. "The police and judicial authorities have to step in immediately before another person faces this kind of vigilante violence." Police on the island, home to 6.3 million people, are frequently prevented from accessing crime scenes because of heavily-armed locals. "People often don't trust the police or the judiciary and instead blame events on supernatural causes and punish suspected sorcerers," Abolosi Bose added. "The constabulary, the public prosecution office and other relevant authorities should step up efforts to curb vigilante violence and raise awareness in communities about ways in which people can legitimately seek justice."

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