Friday, June 07, 2013

Death penalty not a solution for sorcery killings: Dame Carol Kidu

By ABC Canberra correspondent Karen Barlow

Long-serving Papua New Guinea parliamentarian, Dame Carol Kidu, says the death penalty will not help solve the problem of sorcery-related violence in the country.
PNG's government last week voted to enforce the death penalty for a number of capital offences in an attempt to deal with the problem.
Dame Kidu has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat she is horrified by the recent sorcery-related killings in the country, which have mainly targeted women.
"There's a mass hysteria around it. What appears to be almost a reluctance of people to intervene, which would indicate that they also are afraid of sorcery and its implications," she said.
"Traditionally, in the few societies that I know about, whenever a sorcerer was killed, it was normally done by maybe a group of three people who would go out and kill them in the night in secrecy.
"It wasn't a public event ... that is completely new in the way that it's happening."

Dame Kidu says she is concerned about the impact public killings have on children in the communities.
"Children run to see the witch being burnt," she said.
"It's very worrying because that's their socialisation process, and that's why we have to find ways to counteract this as quickly as possible."
However, she believes re-introducing capital punishment is the wrong way to tackle violent crime.
"I, personally, do not support the death penalty as a solution to this, or as a solution to crime," she said.
"Global experience and research has shown it is not a solution to crime, and state-sanctioned killing does not, in my opinion, help bring us into a society for peace, prosperity, for the future.
"There is enormous scope for people being wrongfully killed because of the limited capacity for investigation in Papua New Guinea."
Dame Kidu is backed by human rights groups and the United Nations, which say any resumption of executions may affect PNG's international standing.
Dame Kidu believes in educating the public to recognise the killings as a crime.
"We've got to work in early childhood, too, in ensuring that we influence the educational processes into ... rejecting [their belief in sorcery] being manifested in this way," she said.
"This is wilful, premeditated murder and it has to be recognised as such."
Dame Kidu says it is also necessary to work on "transformative processes" to move the communities forward.
"I believe very strongly that we've got to introduce community conversations right throughout the country, and get communities taking control of these types of situations ... with very responsible structuring of the community conversations," she said.

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