Ghana’s Parliament has passed the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which seeks to proscribe witchcraft accusation.
The object of the Bill is to amend the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Acts 29) to prohibit the practice by any person as a witch doctor or a witch finder; to proscribe the declaration, accusation, naming or labelling of another person as a witch; and for related matters.
The Private Member’s Bill was sponsored by Mr. Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina.
Other sponsors include: Hajia Laadi Ayii Ayamba, NDC MP for Pusiga; Dr Godfred Seidu Jasaw, NDC MP for Wa East, Madam Helen Adjoa Ntoso, NDC MP for Krachi West and Madam Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah, NDC MP for Afram Plains North.
When Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin put the question to a voice vote after the third reading, the Motion was carried.
Mr. Sosu in his contribution during the debate noted that the accusation of a person as witch sometimes could amount to a death sentence depending on the community in which the said accusation was made.
Mr. Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said the Committee was of the view that there was the need to pass a law to deter accusations of witchcraft and its attendant human rights abuse, provide a legal framework to law enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders of Hunan rights out of witchcraft accusations and, gives confidence to victims currently residing in witch camps to reintegrate into their communities and unite with their families was long overdue.
“Mr. Speaker, I will have to thank the sponsors of this Bill, it is one of the inhuman treatments that we do as a country. And I am grateful that the Committee unanimously agreed on the report, and I am happy that the House has also unanimously agreed with us that witchcraft accusations and witch doctors and witch finders as we find in our Criminal Code must be done away with.” Mr Anyimadu-Antwi said.
“Let it not be told anywhere that we are passing laws to acknowledge witches or do away with witchcraft. We do not, and it has never been agreed or proved that the beliefs that we have as witchcraft are a reality. It is a superstition”.
Mr. Anyimadu-Antwi noted that it was surprising that all over Africa, it was only on Ghana that they had witch Camps; stating that “this does not sit well with Ghana’s constitutional Provision that nobody must be subjected to inhuman treatments, or every individual is entitled to decent dignity”.
He reiterated it was one of things that was drawing Ghanaians down and that as far as the 17th and 16th centuries, the United Kingdom had made laws to abolish witch doctors and witchcraft.
He expressed concern over the post passage of the Bill and that they must together with the civil societies that assisted in coming out with the Bill, such as Action Aid, Sanneh Institute and Amnesty International, must assist Parliament to make sure that these illegal witch-camps were done away with.
Dr Godfred Seidu Jasaw, NDC MP for Wa East, one of the sponsors of the Bill, said the Bill sought to prohibit persons practising as witch doctors or witch finders.
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