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General News of Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Source: GNA

Human rights activists want witches' camps abolished

Gnani (N/R), May 19, GNA -Civil Society Organizations, Human Rights Activist in collaboration with the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), have called on the government to take urg= ent steps to abolish the witches' camps in the Northern parts of the country. They said the witches' camps are grounds of human rights violations and an affront to the rights and dignity of the people accused as witches and=

wizards.

Miss Zenabu Sakibu, Coordinator for the Southern Sector Youth and Wo= men's Empowerment Network (SOSYWEN), who is leading the crusade on Tuesday at Gnani Witches Camp in Yendi bemoaned the inhuman treatment under which th= e accused were undergoing. She said SOSYWEN is an organization that is currently undertaking projects in Yendi, Nanumba North and East Mamprusi districts all in the Northern region and aims at promoting the rights of women, empowering and=

advocating for the abolishing of discrimination and cultural elimination of women to "Witches Camps". Miss Zenabu indicated that the witches' camps' issue was multi-dimensional; socio-cultural, religious, socio-political, legal an= d human rights as well as an issue of ignorance and lack of knowledge about=

the causes of diseases. She said her outfit apart from advocating for the abolishing, would also be sensitizing all the communities about issues of human rights, educate people about diseases and epidemics and what causes them, toleran= ce and cohesion among people in the communities.

Mr. Yakubu Abass, Yendi Municipal Director of CHRAJ, noted that the issue of witchcraft is an old-long tradition which does not exist in real= ity hence the need to bring to an end the practice from the modern society. He raised the concern that children of the accused who come with the= m to the camps do not go to school and those who do are often stigmatized i= n school by their colleagues which he said could affect them psychologicall= y. Mr. Abass said the accusers do not have the legal right under the constitution of the republic to accuse people of witchcraft because they cannot prove it at the law courts. Meanwhile, Npoche Kofi and Chakoja Nnogme, both males from Nanumba North and now in Gnani Camp admitted that they indeed possessed the witchcraft and had used it in killing people while Wafu Nnogma, an accuse= d witch denied being a witch. The Gnani Witches Camp has about 434 accused witches and wizards wit= h 321 females and 113 males and about 894 children who are with them to tak= e care of them.

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