Police Commissioner David Manning has issued orders for the arrest of all persons involved in a recent torture and murder of five women accused of sorcery in the Pawa Yamo village of Kagua district in the Southern Highlands province.
“Everyone will be identified and arrested. Even if it means we have to arrest every member of a clan or tribe we will do so. This madness has got to stop. We are in the 21st century and such barbaric actions must be quickly stopped with the full force of the law,” Police Commissioner Manning said.
He added that there are no innocent bystanders. Everyone who was at the scene and did nothing to stop the tortures are just as guilty as the ones who tortured the women.
Mr Manning described the perpetrators as uncivilized and void of any human decency. He described them as evil persons without any sense of logical human thinking.
“The country cannot progress without letting go of these horrific “traditional beliefs”. They serve no good to our girls, women, and the vulnerable within our communities. Such acts actually set our country back decades,” Mr Manning said.
He said for Papua New Guinea to move on as a people and nation, such evil practices must be done away with. He said there are positive cultural beliefs and practices that creates identity, and a sense of pride and strengthens us as a country of many tribes. He said our laws guide us as to certain aspects of our cultural heritage and beliefs that are acceptable and consistent with our rights and freedoms under our Constitution.
“And then there is our belief in sorcery that has taken on an ugly and evil nature in some parts of the country. The belief allows men or justifies them to carry out cruel acts of violence against other people, especially those that cannot defend themselves.
“What happened in Kagua is simply and totally unacceptable. These are vile, inhumane, and simply evil acts that must be stopped.
“Unfortunately, these actions are based on beliefs that only a few cultures still hold strong. Many cultures across the nation have moved on or evolved into advanced cultures compared to a couple of generations ago and we continue to see these cultures and values promoted to enhance our lives as human beings,” Mr Manning said.
The video of the torture of the women which has gone viral shows the women tied to poles and burnt with hot metal. The torture and murder were reported to have happened some three weeks ago.
Mr Manning said police have responded to the Kagua incident and he is waiting for a report from Deputy Commissioner Operations Mr Anton Billie.
The recent incident has prompted Mr Manning to repeat his calls for a national holistic approach to sorcery related violence.
“I will call for a national forum in the new year for all stakeholders including relevant and responsible government departments, agencies as well as churches, NGOs and interest groups. We need to come together to put in place systems, mechanisms and processes to deal with sorcery and sorcery related violence,” Mr Manning said.
He said many Papua New Guineans believe in sorcery and the level of their reaction or response vary from province to province so everyone needs to come together now to end sorcery related violence.
“I would very much be interested to progress any discussions with both Magisterial and Judicial systems to establish a separate court to deal with sorcery/traditional belief-based violence. There is the law and there is justice, and this must be correctly applied to these sorcery related cases,” Mr Manning said.