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By Maya Shwayder | February 8, 2013 10:14 AM PST

On Wednesday a poor 20-year-old mother of a six-year-old named Kepari Leniara was stripped, tortured, and burned alive as a witch in Papua New Guinea, as relatives and law enforcement looked on. Her six-year-old son had died in the hospital a day before, and she reportedly confessed to killing him. Law enforcement officials claim they were "outnumbered" by the villagers and were helpless to intervene.

Belief in sorcery and witchcraft are still widespread in Papua New Guinea.

On Friday the UN High Commission on Human Rights released a brief statement condemning the woman's death. 

"We are deeply disturbed by reports of the torture and killing of a 20-year-old woman accused of sorcery in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea, on 6 February," said a spokesperson for the Commission, Cécile Pouilly. "We note with great concern that this case adds to the growing pattern of vigilante attacks and killings of persons accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea.

"We urge the Government to put an end to these crimes and to bring perpetrators of attacks and killings to justice through thorough, prompt and impartial investigations in accordance with international law."

A police spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday that "people will have to be arrested" for the woman's death.

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