23 Jul 2008

A Papua New Guinea leader says education not legislation the key to ending sorcery related killings

6:47 pm on 23 July 2008

Former Papua New Guinea chief justice and current governor of Madang Province, Sir Arnold Amet, says education and generational change are the key to ending sorcery related killings, not legislation.

Sir Arnold says he disagrees with an editorial in the National newspaper which argues that judges should stop accepting a suspicion of sorcery as a mitigating factor in murder trials.

"We ought not to dismiss this dynamic, although I personally don't believe in it because of my education and my Christian persuasion, yet I am not able say that the vast majority of our traditional rural people, with limited education, continuing to live the type of life-styles that they do, do not believe in this dynamic. To the point that their passions are aroused when there are suspicions and accusations and they believe it to the core of their lives."

Sir Arnold says in cases where he accepted a killing had been committed by a person who truly believed the victim was a sorcerer the sentence reflected that by allowing for time off for good behaviour.

But he said those found guilty still spent long stretches inside prison.