Improving the impact of state and non-state interventions in overcoming sorcery accusation related violence in PNG

Newspaper clippings on sorcery accusation related violence

Project leader(s)

Sorcery accusation related violence is seen as a growing problem in PNG and has attracted domestic and international calls for an effective government response. It is implicated in a range of negative developmental outcomes, including economic disempowerment, poor health, insecurity, persecution, and violence including torture and murder. What’s more, these negative outcomes impact disproportionately upon women and most acutely affect women who lack male protection and are consequently more vulnerable to sorcery accusations.

In response to calls for action to deal with the problem of sorcery accusation related violence, both the PNG government and a broad range of civil society, faith based and international organisations have started to put into place legislative reforms, projects and programs, but there has been an over reliance from the government on the preventative and deterrent effects of the state criminal justice system.

To combat this, the Department of Justice, together with a range of partner organisations, have developed a Sorcery National Action Plan (“SNAP”) which sets out a comprehensive and holistic response to the problem. The SNAP provides for the development of training packages for a wide range of service providers and local community governance structures, but at present there is not sufficient research to identify what types of training is needed and what is likely to be effective.

This research project will support PNG partners to address sorcery accusation related violence by developing and communicating a body of evidence regarding which interventions break the link between sorcery and violence and how they can best be supported. The project will be heavily action-research focussed as it monitors and critiques the implementation of SNAP and its associated interventions.

A successful complainant for damages for defamation following sorcery accusations

Escaping Sorcery Accusations

02 July 2018

By Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth

Image: sorcery accusation related violence survivor by Judith Forsyth

Sorting through the witchcraft myths

15 March 2018

Burning or stabbing people accused of witchcraft conjures up images from hundreds of years ago, yet the practice continues today and is even growing in some remote areas of Papua New Guinea.

abstract image of a screaming face

Pathways through fear: regulating sorcery accusation related violence

14 November 2017

Many different types of fear are involved in the expression of this form of violence, and so it is a useful site to investigate the relationship between regulation and fear.



Dr Miranda Forsyth

Miranda Forsyth is an Associate Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in the College of Asia and Pacific at ANU. Prior to coming to...

Dr Fiona Hukula

Fiona Hukula is a Senior Research Fellow & Program Leader of the Building Safer Communities Program at the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute.


Law, justice and human rights

RegNet is one of world’s leading centres for socio-legal research. This cluster aims to lead the development of transformative ideas in the fields of criminology and restorative justice; human rights and international law; legal pluralism; peacebuilding; the regulatory dimensions of international and domestic law; and rule of law.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet