Findings on sorcery-related violence released

A major research into sorcery accusation related violence in Papua New Guinea is now being carried out.

The study started in November 2016 and will run for the next three years, with 2017 being the first year of the release of findings.

Funded by the Papua New Guinean-Australia Partnership, the research is a partnership between academics at the Divine Word University (DWU), The National Research Institute (NRI) in PNG and the Australian National University (ANU).

A forum held today at the National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby was informed of the Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP).

The Sorcery National Action Plan was passed by the National Executive Council in 2015 to overcome the problems of sorcery accusation related violence.

However, to this day, no funds have been made available to implement this action plan.

Regardless, the research project released its first findings today which included many elements with newspaper and law case study.

Researchers Dr Fiona Hukula from NRI and Dr Miranda Forsyth from ANU presented their findings.

They stated that an analysis of 20 years of incidents reported in local newspapers and in case law revealed that on average each year, a minimum of 72 people are victims of SARV and 30 are killed.

Both researchers said findings also reveal that in the majority of the reported incidents, there are multiple victims and often, extreme violence was involved.

The findings also state that police were reported as having intervened in only 13 percent of the incidents. Charges were laid against at least one suspect in one quarter of the incidents, most commonly for murder or wilful murder.

The data shows an upward trend in reported SARV incidents that peaked in 2011 and has declined slightly since then.

The newspaper is only the beginning and a lot more data will be collected and interviews conducted to help academics and researchers better understand what leads to the violence and how it can be prevented.

It will also inform the SNAP once it is funded.

(Researchers Dr Miranda Forsyth, ANU, and Dr Fiona Hukula from NRI)

Annette Kora