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General News of Monday, 9 August 2021


Parliament must pass laws against witchcraft accusations - Researcher

Parliament has been invited to act in interest of human rights protection Parliament has been invited to act in interest of human rights protection

Parliament must pass legislation against witchcraft accusations

• Doing so will deter people from doing so and will protect victims

• A recent research shows that people in witch camps up north face multiple layers of exploitation

The Parliament of Ghana must consider legislation against accusation of witchcraft as a means protecting the rights of vulnerable persons who are abused for such reasons.

This is the view advanced by a researcher in the area of harmful traditional practices, Professor John Azumah, the Executive Director of the Sanneh Institute.

According to him legislation with achieve two ends of deterring potential accusers whiles providing a legal framework for prosecuting offenders and seeking justice for victims.

He stressed that Parliament’s role will be part of a multi-stakeholder engagement needed to root out mistreatment of persons labeled as witches and subsequently confined to camps usually under dehumanizing conditions.

Other institutions he tasked to cue in on the issue included traditional authority, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), civil society and non-governmental organizations, who he identified can help in educational campaigns against witchcraft accusations and other injurious cultural practices.

“At the minimum, if local chiefs declare that accused persons who have gone through the rituals should be allowed to return to their families, they will enable victims to return home safely and if such declarations by chiefs are backed by local government officials, a safe environment will be created so that most victims can return home,” added.

Prof Azuma’s Sanneh Institute shared results from a research work last week which reported that residents of five witch camps in the Northern and North East Regions were being sexually, verbally and emotionally abused whiles being exploited by being made to engage in forced labour.

The report worked with victims and caretakers in five witch camps in total whiles highlighting the baseless grounds on which most victims are dumped at these camps and admission by caretakers that most of the stated reasons were frivolous.

In February 2021 during her vetting in Parliament, Gender Minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo said she will work to rebrand witch camps and empower inhabitants with government interventions.

“If I am given the nod, what I will first do is to engage and visit some of the camps and engage these alleged witches. I will further engage the traditional authorities and opinion leaders in these areas to get a very clear picture of what indeed ought to be done.

“That is not to say that the Ministry hasn’t done anything. I chanced upon some documents which indicated that in Gambaga witches camp for instance, there are 600 inmates. When they were engaged only one was prepared to come back home.

“So I believe in a rebranding of these camps because as far as the women of these camps are concerned they have found families in these camps and so I will engage them.

“Attempts to withdraw these women have proven difficult in the past that is why I believe that another and a novel approach to dealing with the matter will be more prudent," the Dome Kwabenya MP said.

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