This past Wednesday in Papua New Guinea (PNG), 20-year-old Kepari Leniata was tortured and then tied up, doused in gasoline and set on fire in front of a crowd after being accused of killing a 6-year-old boy through sorcery by the boy’s relatives. Police officers, adults, and children watched as this woman was murdered. Apparently the police officers were unable to intervene because they were outnumbered by the villagers but afterwards, they did not make a single arrest. Currently, there is no known connection between Leniata and the 6-year-old boy who died in a hospital and more than 50 people are suspected to have played a part in this murder.
PNG’s National Police Spokesman is furious that the police did not make any arrests and stated that an internal investigation is being conducted to determine why these police officers could not save this woman.
The UN states that this incident is just one of other vigilante attacks and killings of people who have been accused of sorcery in PNG. Last July, 29 people, who were a part of a cannibal cult, were arrested for murdering 7 suspected witch doctors. Also in 2009, a young woman was burned alive at the stake because of a sorcery-related crime.
In PNG, there is a widespread belief in sorcery. Many of these people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for death, accidents or illnesses. The UN urges PNG authorities to educate its populace to prevent more attacks and murders based on sorcery. The UN has also called on the PNG government to stop these attacks and to bring these deaths to justice.
The PNG Police Commissioner suggests that courts need to be established to deal with sorcery allegations, as an alternative to villagers dispensing their own justice.
I thought that burning witches was something that took place between the 15th and 18th centuries, not during the 21st century! I am absolutely shocked and outraged that such a thing could take place in front of a crowd of people, including police officers, and nothing was done to save this woman’s life. Also, how would courts go about dealing with sorcery? It seems a little crazy but worth it if it would save lives.
What do you believe should happen to the police officers that did not do anything to save this woman? Also do you believe in the Commissioner’s idea of courts somehow establishing a way to deal with sorcery allegations? How would the court system deal with the issue of sorcery?
PHOTO SOURCE: US News