Responses to and Issues Arising from Recent Cases of Sorcery Accusation Related Violence in PNG

Author/s (editor/s):

Forsyth, Miranda

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Publication type:

Working paper

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This paper details a number of recent networked actions that have led to positive directions in the fight against sorcery accusation related violence in PNG. It also identifies some common themes and issues arising from these responses to analyse current responses and identify potential future directions. There is a common narrative in PNG that cases of sorcery related violence are rising, and that this is despite hard work by a range of actors. There is currently no reliable data about whether or not the cases are actually on the rise overall or are just more visible today (as a result of Facebook, newspaper reports etc). Regardless of whether there is in fact an upwards trend in the numbers of cases, sorcery accusation related violence is currently a major problem in many parts of the country, particularly the Highlands and Bougainville. This makes it crucial to uncover and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness (or non-effectiveness) of the mechanisms that are being used to combat this type of violence. The Sorcery National Action Plan (“SNAP”) was passed by the National Executive Council in July 2015, together with funding of three million kina. Although the funding has not as yet been formally allocated, the SNAP is being actively implemented under the leadership of the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG). An eighteen month implementation plan was developed and approved by the SNAP core committee in April 2016. A major part of the theory underlying the SNAP is that the best chance of success is in finding multiple ways to connect together the different sets of actors involved in combating sorcery accusation related violence. The diverse champions in this fight include relatives and neighbours of victims, police officers, church and community leaders, community activists and so on. It is imperative to find ways that such people can act with support from a broader network, comprised of both state and non-state, and ocal and national actors. There have been four incidents in the past few months that have demonstrated the benefits of the network building approach that underlies the SNAP. The accounts below are based mainly on newspaper reports, interviews conducted by Father Philip Gibbs, and preliminary fieldwork pending major fieldwork starting next year.

Cite the publication as

Forsyth, Miranda 2016. ‘Responses to and Issues Arising from Recent Cases of Sorcery Accusation Related Violence in PNG’ (November 15, 2016). RegNet Research Paper No. 2016/122, RegNet, Canberra

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