By PISAI GUMAR in The National,
A CONFERENCE in Madang has called for a major review into the Sorcery Act of 1971.
There were recommendations that the act be redrafted with clear definitions.
The “Law on sorcery and sorcery-related killings” conference was held at the police training centre in Madang.
The conference was organised by the Public Prosecutions office and was attended by
Acting Public Prosecutor Jim Wala Tamate told the conference that the courts were dealing with “belief systems and not mere criminal acts, or rather, with criminal acts based on belief systems”.
He also said that sorcery was deeply rooted into customs and traditions.
Mr Tamate said that belief in the effectiveness of magical and sorcery practices were widespread in the country in various ethnic groups and levels of society.
He stated that sorcery was a very broad field because the practices were performed based on various general and personal interests including land matters, courtship, family and marriage relationships and much more.
Mr Tamate said that the subject needed proper research by knowledgeable researchers from different fields to define clearly the meaning of the various sorcery practices in PNG.
He also said that the penalties on sorcery-related crimes also had to be tougher for the sorcerers and “torturers” based on how serious the matter was.
“Sorcery should be clearly defined to help police and the courts to perform their duties effectively,” Mr Tamate said.
He added that sorcery practices had both good and bad side.
Good sorcery, he said, related to social support services to individual, family and community while bad sorcery meant killing a person without good reason.