Perpetrators of sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in the Southern Highlands are more likely to be held accountable for their crimes after 26 police officers recently received training on how to investigate SARV and prosecute those responsible.
Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Martin Lakari said SARV is widespread in the Highlands regions and it is crucial police officers are able to properly investigate and prosecute these crimes.
“Police are the first point of contact when SARV escalates in the communities and villages, so it’s important to possess the necessary skills to effectively investigate and prosecute,” PPC Lakari said.
Human Rights Defender and advocate Mary Kini said police had a central role to play in tackling SARV and urged the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) and other services to collaborate and network more to ensure survivors were able to access the support they needed.
“Police are an important partner in the movement to see a society free from all forms of violence,” Kini said.
Constable Teresa Kemawawa, who has worked in Mendi for the past five years, said what she learned in the workshop would improve the way she handled SARV cases.
The one-week course was the sixth training of this kind to be conducted in PNG, with more than 100 officers gaining the knowledge and skills to better respond to SARV.
The workshop was facilitated by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and the Office of the Public Prosecutor with support from the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership.