Village judges tend to be reluctant to handle cases where people are attacked over sorcery allegations, according to a church leader in Papua New Guinea.
Father Victor Roche of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG has called for stronger laws and better protection for law enforcement in combatting sorcery-related violence.
This comes as over 100 men in Madang are to go to trial for the killings of seven people they accused of practising sorcery, or sanguma.
Father Roche said stronger laws and better protection for law enforcement officers are needed to combat sorcery-related violence
"When they have any cases of sorcery-related killings or prosecution, the village judges should make sure that it is done properly, handled well," he said.
"But they tend to say "no, that is a matter for the community, we don't want to deal with it" That's not the way to go. Because if it's not dealt with immediately then the people take the law into their own hands and they go ahead and kill them."
Father Roche said church leaders and individual community leaders have been courageous in trying to raise awareness about, and combat, sorcery-related attacks.
But he said without concerted government help, communities have largely been unable to stop the problem, as sorcery-related killings appear to have been on a rise in recent years.
According to Father Roche, belief in misuse of sorcery used to be concentrated in the Highlands but in recent decades has spread extensively.
"It's possible that people who are married in those provinces, they continue (the practice related to sorcery, or they are also taking sorcery as an excuse to kill somebody because of some other jealousy in business or some jealousy in a family-related case."