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Sorcery-related murders ‘getting out of hand’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 9, 2009) – The Constitutional Review and Law Reform Commission will come up with a new law this year to combat the increasing sorcery related murders in the country.

Commission chairman Joe Mek Teine yesterday said sorcery related murders were getting out of hand and the country needed a tougher law to combat the crimes.

Mr. Mek Teine said: "We’re taking the sorcery issue as a priority agenda this year. We’ll come up with a bill for the government to pass it."

He said the commission would travel throughout the country this year to get public views from all ethnic groups, churches, and other organisations to come up with a suitable law.

"We’ll invite everybody to take part to review the existing laws and come up with a stronger law. A lot of people are being killed on allegations of sorcery," Mek Teine said.

More than 50 cases of sorcery related murders were reported to police last year in the Eastern Highlands and Chimbu provinces.

A lot of people, especially women and older men, were killed over allegations of causing deaths through sorcery in the five highlands provinces. "It is a problem that has been existing in the country before the arrival of western influence and it’s deeply rooted," he said. "The churches have done a lot to improve it but it’s getting worse every time."

He said the issue was deteriorating and if nothing was done immediately, a lot of people would lose their lives.

"We need to come with a new approach to this issue now. The commission has taken it as a priority agenda this year."

Highlands divisional police comander Simon Kauba appealed for people to not take the law into their own hands by killing.

"By now, we should let responsible authorities deal with allegations of sorcery. If people suspect each other of sorcery, they must come to the police with their evidence. It also goes to the victims. They should report any attacks." Mr. Kauba said.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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