Strengthening the voices of human rights defenders in the media

A case study on addressing sorcery accusation related violence in Papua New Guinea

  • Verena Thomas Queensland University of Technology
  • Jackie Kauli Queensland University of Technology
Keywords: community media, human rights, media ethics, Papua New Guinea, sorcery


Civil society and human rights defenders in Papua New Guinea have played an important role in bringing about legislative changes with regard to domestic and sorcery accusation related violence in recent years. Their insights in understanding how to address complex issues at the community level when accusations occur have also proven crucial to keeping people safe and providing processes to hold perpetrators accountable. However, the mainstream media has rarely reported on their stories and included their voices in the reporting of sorcery accusation related violence. They have focused on exposing the problem, often by showcasing the horrific nature of some of the crimes related to accusations, instead of further investigating possible solutions. In this paper we explore our work with human rights defenders to capture their experiences around sorcery accusations and violence and provide ways to bring their stories into the mainstream media. In particular, we explore questions around the ethics of representation when it comes to reporting human rights abuses and violence and suggest alternative ways of reporting.


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Author Biographies

Verena Thomas, Queensland University of Technology
Senior Research Fellow
Jackie Kauli, Queensland University of Technology

Jackie Kauli is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty, at Queensland University of Technology. Her research and creative practice focus on applied theatre and process drama in development practice. She works across Australia and Papua New Guinea.


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How to Cite
Thomas, V., & Kauli, J. (2020). Strengthening the voices of human rights defenders in the media: A case study on addressing sorcery accusation related violence in Papua New Guinea. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 26(1), 86-104.