And the United States government, through its embassy in Port Moresby, joined in the international and nationwide condemnation of the killing.
The 20-year-old mother of an eight-month-old daughter, identified as Kepari Lanieta, from Paiala in Porgera district, Enga, was reportedly tortured with a hot iron rod, stripped naked, tied up and burnt alive in front of a crowd after she was accused of killing a boy through sorcery.
“What has been reported is very barbaric and inhuman. No one commits such a despicable act in the society that all of us, including Kepari, belong to,” the prime minister said in a statement yesterday.
He directed the police minister to ensure police used all the resources and manpower necessary to bring those responsible to justice.
“Barbaric killings connected with alleged sorcery and violence against women because of this belief that sorcery kills.
“These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country,” O’Neill said.
“It is reprehensible that women, the old and the weak in our society, should be targeted for alleged sorcery or wrongdoing that they actually have nothing to do with.
“I have told the police minister that I want to see those responsible for the killing of this woman brought to justice,” O’Neill said.
“I also want to appeal to the relatives of Kepari to remain calm and allow police to carry out their work.”
The prime minister also said the work of former Constitutional Review Commission chairman, the late Joe Mek Teine, would be reviewed to toughen laws on sorcery-related killings.
Before he died in April 2011, the former Kundiawa-Gembogl MP was conducting a study into sorcery-related killings in the highlands, and reviewing the Criminal Code to address increasing incidents of killings related to sorcery in the region.
Meanwhile, the US government, through its embassy in Port Moresby, said there was “no possible justification” for the killing.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to her family, especially her eight-month-old daughter. There is no possible justification for this sort of violence,” the embassy said in a statement yesterday.
“The embassy hopes that appropriate resources are devoted to identifying, prosecuting and punishing those responsible for the killing, saying the incident once again highlighted the need for comprehensive action to address the pervasive global problem of gender-based violence.
“The US government calls for a sustained international partnership to address this issue throughout the Pacific, including through the creation and enforcement of anti-gender-based violence laws, the enhancement of prevention and response efforts, and the reduction of stigma and harmful practices.
“We will continue to work in partnership with the Papua New Guinean government and civil society to advance this agenda.
“Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and child during this difficult time.”