PNG Police ‘Limited’ In Investigating Sorcery Cases By Law

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PNG Police ‘Limited’ In Investigating Sorcery Cases By Law Commander says authorities can only act upon evidence

By Johnny Poiya

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 30, 2013) – Many suspects in sorcery-related murders are roaming freely because police investigations are limited by the laws under Papua New Guinea’s Criminal Code Act.

Eastern Highlands provincial police commander John Kale yesterday said police investigations were made even difficult when suspects in sorcery-related killings, as well as whole communities, did not co-operate with police to protect alleged sorcerers or catch perpetrators of violence against those blamed for being sorcerers.

Supt. Kale said: "Police have limits in investigation. Under the Criminal Code Act that deals with murder and willful murder, we act only upon evidence. If there is no evidence, our work stops there."

Chief Kale said this after declaring that sorcery related murders in Okapa district was getting out of hand as another man was killed on Sunday.

Over a week ago, one man was hacked to death in Tumuki village of Okapa District while the latest victim, a young man, was killed in Waisa village, in south Okapa.

The perpetrators hid the body of the man when police turned up to investigate.

The murder sparked a tribal clash between the victim’s tribesmen and the perpetrators. Quick action by Okapa police prevented what could have been a wholesale tribal warfare yesterday.

Kale expressed grave concerns on the manner in which people were being brutally murdered randomly over suspicions of sorcery.

"We have a very serious problem in Okapa with people being murdered without any second thoughts. Unfortunately for the recent killing, we could not do much because the body was hidden," Kale said.

He said though they knew there was a killing, when the body was hidden with nobody giving evidence, police work was stopped.

"That’s the saddest thing about our law. It does not allow us to investigate at a different angle. Everything stops here. That is why a lot of suspects are free," the police commander said.

The body of the victim is believed to have been either dumped into a river or a pit. Last week in the Gumine District of Chimbu province, a mother and her teacher son were murdered and thrown into a toilet pit over allegations of sorcery.

The bodies of three women were also discovered in Kamaliki outside Goroka town two weeks ago while another man was hacked to death in Banz, Jiwaka Province last week.

Attorney General and Justice Minister Kerenga Kua this week said the government was seriously considering the death penalty following upsurge in crime.

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