UN tells Papua New Guinea ‘Stop Burning Witches’ – 120413 1040z


The United Nations demands an end to sorcery and witchcraft murders in the Pacific nation after an increase in horrific killings.

(Photo: skynews.com) Spiritmen in Papua New Guinea, where sorcery is illegal

Papua New Guinea has been told by the United Nations to put an end to sorcery and witchcraft killings after an elderly woman was beheaded.


Her death is one of an increasing number of murders of those accused of sorcery, which is illegal in the Pacific nation.


Days before her death, six women were repeatedly tortured with hot irons in an Easter “sacrifice” in the Southern Highlands.


In February a woman accused of being a witch was stripped naked and burned by a baying mob.


The UN has again called for the country’s government to repeal the Sorcery Act 1971, which human rights groups has given the notion of witchcraft a legitimacy.


A UN statement said: “The UN is deeply disturbed with the increasing reports of violence, torture and murder of persons accused of practising sorcery around the country.


“These vigilante killings constitute murder and must not be treated with impunity.”


Papua New Guinea.
A woman accused of witchcraft was burnt alive in Mount Hagen in February


The beheading of the elderly woman happened earlier this week in the Bana district of South Bougainville.


She was one of two women killed after being accused of sorcery. The pair were kidnapped and tortured for three days, suffering knife and axe wounds.


Local media reported that police were present but were outnumbered by an angry mob and could do nothing to prevent the deaths.


The UN statement said: “This case adds to the increase of reports of extra-judicial torture and killings of both men and women, especially elderly women, accused of sorcery.


“These reports raise grave concern that accusations of sorcery are used to justify arbitrary and inhumane acts of violence.”


There is a widespread belief in sorcery in Papua New Guinea and many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune and death.


There have been several other cases of witchcraft and cannibalism in the country in recent years, with a man reportedly found eating his newborn son during a sorcery initiation ceremony in 2011.”- Sky News

Other Reports


“Two women tortured and beheaded for ‘using witchcraft to murder teacher’ as police looked on unable to help

  • Women taken from home in Papua New Guinea after popular teacher died

  • Tortured for three days in remote village then beheaded in front of police

  • Officers tried to intervene but were held back by huge crowd of locals

Two women have been tortured for three days and then beheaded in a remote village in Papua New Guinea after being accused of witchcraft.

A team of police rushed to the scene – but were forced to stand by and watch the victims being decapitated with axes as locals refused to let them come to their aid.

A large crowd kept the police at bay within sight of the clearing where the women were lying trussed up on the ground.

Villagers on the island of Bougainville ignored orders to let them go, and instead set about them with axes and knives.

Villagers: Residents of the island of Bougainville have executed two women for witchcraft (other locals are pictured in this file photo)

Villagers: Residents of the island of Bougainville have executed two women for witchcraft (other locals are pictured in this file photo)

The women, from the village of Tandorima, were accused of using sorcery to kill a popular schoolteacher who died a few weeks ago.

‘We couldn’t do anything to help these two women,’ said Central Bougainville police chief Herman Birengka.

‘My men were threatened when they went to the area to negotiate the release of the women. We were helpless. We couldn’t do anything to help them because of the threats made against us.’

He said the mob had burned down houses in the women’s village, forcing their relatives to flee into the jungle.

‘These killings were both barbaric and senseless,’ Mr Birengka said.

Remote: The killings happened in a small village located on the island of Bougainville

Remote: The killings happened in a small village located on the island of Bougainville


Sorcery and witchcraft is widely believed in Papua New Guinea and is commonly practiced in remote villages across the island nation.

The cost of a witch doctor revealing a cause of death or casting out an evil spirit is usually 1000 New Guinean kina (Ł303), plus a pig and a bag of rice,

In 1971, whilst still a colony, the country introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalise the practice.

However the law has recently seen a rise in attacks on innocent people accused of black magic, such as that on Miss Leniata, and convictions by kangaroo courts made up of of local village elders.

As a result the Papua New Guinean law reform commission proposing to repeal the law.

Last July, 29 people were arrested accused of black magic and cannibalism after allegedly murdering seven people in order to eat their brains and use their genitals for sorcery rituals.

In 2009 a man was hacked to pieces by machetes after a kangaroo court convicted him of sorcery.


The gruesome murders follow a number of sorcery-related killings on the Papua New Guinea mainland, mostly in remote highland villages.

Earlier this year a young woman accused of being a witch and causing the death of a young boy was dragged to a rubbish dump and burned alive, with police once again unable to help because of threats by the crowd.

‘I wish we could have helped these two women,’ said Mr Birengka in a reference to the latest killings.

‘But the villagers who had kidnapped the women were armed with five high-powered firearms, knives and axes.’

He told the Post Courier newspaper that the two women were attacked at their village homes at night and taken to the nearby village of Lopele, where the mob accused them of practicing sorcery and bringing about the death of the teacher.

They were tortured for three days and nights, receiving numerous knife wounds, before being dragged out to a clearing to face execution.

Learning of the imminent murders, police desperately tried to bring in mediators, but all efforts to prevent the deaths failed.

‘We did not want to resort to force as the whole situation could have turned nasty with more lives at stake,’ Mr Birengka said.

‘Even so, I’m disgusted with my officers for failing to find a way of stopping these people who showed utter disregard to law and justice.

‘While they might well have been threatened, those police should have tried harder from the very beginning.’ ” – dailymail.co.uk


Mob stripped, tortured and bound 20 yr old mother accused of witchcraft, burned her alive in front of hundreds in Papua New Guinea (Graphic) 0802131455z

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