Demand an end to brutal ‘sorcery’ killings in Papua New Guinea
Update 29 April 2013: We have received confirmation that the three women held in captivity referred to below have been released and are receiving appropriate care. The Superintendent of the Bougainville Police personally assisted in negotiating the release of these women.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has promised to repeal the Sorcery Act. This is good news, but we must keep up the pressure to ensure the government follows through on its promises and moves towards ending these killings. Please do sign the petition if you haven't already.
In early April Helen Rumbali, a women's rights advocate and former school teacher, was beheaded in front of her community in Papua New Guinea after three days of unspeakable torture. Police stood by and watched, reporting that they were unable to intervene to stop the angry mob.
Why was she murdered? Helen was accused of 'sorcery', and brutal attacks like this one are not uncommon. The law and police inaction effectively condone such violence. The "Sorcery Act" in PNG law offers a reduced sentence if a perpetrator of violent crime uses allegations of 'sorcery' as an excuse -- even for murder.
Right now another woman and her two daughters have been captured at Lopele, Bana District Southern Bougainville. She has been accused of sorcery. We are extremely concerned for the safety of these three women.
Demand Papua New Guinean authorities act urgently to stop 'sorcery' killings
Demand the Bougainville Police Command need to use all available resources to save this woman's life; and also that PNG authorities bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and fast-track the reform of laws that condone this violence.
Sign our petition and we'll fax it every day to PNG's Commissioner of Police Tom Kulunga, Justice Minister and Attorney General Hon. Kerenga Kua and Bougainville Police Superintendent Kum uai.
We, the undersigned, are horrified at the recently reported murders and attacks on women accused of sorcery in Mt Hagen, Bougainville, and the Southern Highlands.
A report from Bougainville that two women were accused of sorcery held and tortured for three days and then publicly beheaded is made more disturbing by the fact the PNG Police were aware of the situation and failed to intervene.
We respect the rights of people from Papua New Guinea to hold and practice their own cultural beliefs. However, this can never justify murder or other brutal attacks on women.
We call on you to:
- Vigorously pursue investigations of all sorcery-related killings to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice, in line with recommendation made by the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms Discrimination against Women.
- Protect any survivors and their families from further attacks and ensure they are given access to appropriate medical care and counselling services,
- Develop strategies to prevent further acts of sorcery-related killings including by the repeal of the Sorcery Act 1971, consistent with the March 2013 recommendation of the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission of PNG,
- Support the passage of the Family Protection Bill 2013 through PNG Parliament as a matter of urgency.
I also ask that you make resources available to ensure that local police are fully supported to carry out their law enforcement role.
I look forward to receiving news of the PNG Government and Police taking action to end this horrible violence against women.