Some forms of sorcery consist of straight out blood or food poisoning or straight out murder. Other forms of sorcery consist of powerful psychological persuasion. At some stage the victim will be informed that he or she has been sorcerised. The fear works on the mind and the make up of the victim until he eventually dies.

Evil sorcery according to custom was never indiscriminate. Every evil sorcery killing had to be authorised by elders and justified as an act of vengeance over one sort of injustice, wrong doing or another. Nowadays, evil sorcery tends to be indiscriminate, and tends to be organised on an individualistic basis, without justification or approval from the village or clan elders. 

Evil sorcery is not permitted under customary law, if it is practiced without good reasons or without authority from elders. In societies without an organised police force and without a jail system, evil sorcery was used as the final and ultimate sanction against persistent wrong doers or violators of the customary laws. If used against innocent people, it certainly called for retaliatory killing or deliberate exile of the sorcerer from the community of the innocent victim.

- Law Reform Commission of PNG, October 1977


Monica Paulus and Mary Kini spoke at the conference on Sorcery & Witchcraft-Related Killings in Melanesia: Culture, Law & Human Rights Perspectives

on 5 June at the Australian National University, Canberra


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