Academic Papers: International Law

“Sorcerer” Killings in Banyuwangi: A Re-Examination of State Responsibility for Violence

This article interrogates the operation of an assumption of state responsibility frequently found in current scholarship on violence in Indonesia. There has recently been “an up surge of interest in violence in Indonesia by the media, by NGOs, and by the academic world”. Important contributions have been made by anumber of conference panels; a special issue of the Asian Journal of Social Scienc(2006); and five recent volumes edited by Anderson (2001a), Wessel and Wimho ¨fer (2001), Colombijn and Lindblad (2002a), Hu¨sken and de Jonge (2002a), and Coppel (2005). Some of the new studies – for example, de Jonge (2002) – clearly elucidate local causes of violence and the role the state has played in attenuating this violence. Nevertheless, at times the recent literature is characterised by an assumption of the state’s responsibility for violence, and a corresponding sense that members of society are its innocent victims. This assumption operates in the discussion of other historical eras,but is most commonly presented in relation to the “New Order” regime (c.1966–98) of President Soeharto. One can find reference to “[t]he massive scale of state violence”(Wessel, 2001b, pp. 70–71) during this era, with the New Order being characterised as “among the most repressive and violent states of the twentieth century” (Barker, 2006,p. 203) or simply as a “state of violence” (Henk Schulte Nordholt, cited in Hu¨sken and de Jonge, 2002b, p. 4). The new literature appears to be driven by a well-meaning and vigilant concern not to let states off the hook. But from my perspective, two problems characterise the notion of state responsibility for violence as it is proposed in the new literature. These are addressed, respectively, in this article’s two parts.
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The killings of alleged sorcerers in south Malang: Conspiracy, ninjas, or ‘community justice’?

Around the 1999-2000 Ramadan fasting month, a series of brutal attacks and killings occurred in the villages in the southern part of the Malang regency. These attacks were a continuation of the killing of alleged sorcerers in East Java – a phenomenon that has claimed hundreds of lives since 1998. This chapter argues that the attacks in South Malang were instances of ‘community justice’, in which local communities banded together to kill supposed sorcerers.

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‘Witch-hunting’ in India: Do We Need Special Laws?

Partners for Law in Development in Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh invetigate laws that need to be put in place to combat witchcraft accusations. The scholarly article shows the barriers in dealing with witch-hunting and related forms of violence. Mehra claims that there needs to be a focus on accountability and reform of the agencies that activate the criminal justice system.

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Abuse Linked to a Belief in Spirit Possession/ Witchcraft – Practice Guidance for Social Workers, August 2012

Social workers are charged with safeguarding children. It is important to be aware of the subject of abuse linked with a belief system so that cases of such abuse can be identified at the earliest possible stage. Cases of child abuse linked to a belief in spirit possession or witchcraft are not common however they can lead to extreme physical and emotional abuse and to child deaths. The cases of Victoria Climbie, Kristy Bamu and Ikpomwosa, whose torso was recovered from the Thames, were all child deaths linked to this belief system. Therefore if you believe this issue may be present it is vital to respond as quickly as possible.

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Voodoo, Witchcraft and Human Trafficking in Europe, Oct 2013

This paper focuses on human rights violations linked to African witchcraft which are occurring in Europe. It is organized in three sections. The first section examines threats toward alleged child-witches; the second examines the misuse of voodoo to enslave women for sexual purposes; and the third will look at the mistreatment and sexual abuse of children or women as part of witchcraft rituals.

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Child Abuse in the UK: Witchcraft and Possession, Oct 2013

The essay is an argument for legislative reform linking the branding of children as witches and possessed and incitement to significant harm. It will propose that the law is reformed to include the criminal offence of inciting significant harm to a child.

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The Extent and Nature of Witchcraft-Based Violence against Children, Women and the Elderly in Malawi, April 27 2012

Many people observe that witchcraft is widely practiced in Malawi and that suspected witches are subjected to acts of violence. However, no systematic research study has been conducted to determine the extent and nature of witchcraft-based violence against children, women, and the elderly who are the most vulnerable groups. Previous reports have often been based on hearsay, and there has been no systematic analysis of the reports. The overall aim of the study was to find out the extent of witchcraft-based violence toward women, the elderly and children so that remedial measures could be prescribed.

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Strategic Framing Works(s): How Microcredit Loans Facilitate Anti-witch-hunt Movements, Feb 17 2012

This article shows how a social movement organization focused on microcredit loans is able to mobilize a community against its own cultural practice of witch-hunts. Successful mobil- ization against witch-hunts are possible when two conditions are met: first, when activists are able to tap into microcredit groups’ social capacity for collective mobilization (defined by ties of mutual dependence, reciprocity, and friendship); and second, when activists are able to use strategic framing to present a coherent argument about the congruence of microcredit and anti-witch-hunt goals. In this context a master frame (women’s development) emerged that effectively forged the seemingly disparate goals of microcredit loans and anti-witch-hunt campaigns into one synthetic movement. In contrast, successful mobilization against witch-hunts was difficult in areas where the activists did not have access to the microcredit networks or were not able to strategically frame the campaign.

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An Anthropological Study of Witchcraft-related Crime in the Eastern Cape and its implications for Law Enforcement Policy and Practice, Jan 2009

This research sought to investigate the phenomenon of witchcraft-related crime in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, and its implications for law enforcement policy and practice. The primary motivation for a study such as this emerged from the need to address the lack of academic knowledge about witchcraft-related crime, especially in the Eastern Cape. The study is anthropological in focus, and is thus based on anthropological techniques of data gathering.

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Child Witches: From Imaginary Cannibalism to Ritual Abuse, 2012

As Quidditch comes to the Olympic Expo Games in Oxford this year (Martinez 2012), the Seekers, Chasers and Beaters recreating JK Rowling’s fantasy game are no doubt unaware that many children in the UK are languishing in an altogether different world of ‘witchcraft and wizardry,’ a world of ndoki and kindoki.

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