Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - In Papua New Guinea, the Catholic Church has convened a special meeting at the end of the month to address the issue of crimes and murders against persons suspected of having practiced black magic. In Papua women accused of black magic or witchcraft are often victims of summary executions.
As Fides learns, the meeting of bishops, priests, pastoral workers will be held in Mendi, a town on the southern Highlands. Here at the end of August, three women and a man were accused of causing the death of some locals by casting a spell. A "popular" court gathered and decided to torture the four defendants with hot irons. Photos of the torture were shown on social media. According to Donald Lippert, O.F.M. Cap, Bishop of Mendi, organizer of the extraordinary summit, "it is impossible to control people's beliefs, but one can control their actions. Attacks on people suspected of practicing black magic will stop only when the authors are condemned".
According to some observers, in fact, the problem is impunity and the Government of Papua does not seem to want to deal with it effectively. In 2013, after a global scandal sparked by the murders of women suspected of having practiced evil, the Parliament of Papua New Guinea abolished the Witchcraft Act of 1971.
That law divided witchcraft in "good" and "bad". Since then, the killing of a person suspected of witchcraft is, for the law, a pure and simple murder. But the law is not enforced and the government does not push the police and judges to intervene in these crimes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/10/2015)