Ghana criminalises witchcraft accusation

Ghana criminalises witchcraft accusation

Ghana as part of its law amendment has passed the Criminal Offences (Amend­ment) Bill, 2022 in parliament to criminalise the accu­sation of witchcraft.

By this amendment, the practice by any person as a witch doctor or witch finder has also been outlawed.

Led by the MP for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu, the Private Members Bill formed part of the broad policy measures to deal with attacks and human rights vi­olations arising out of witchcraft accusations.

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Other co-sponsors of the Bill include MP for Pusiga, Hajia Laa­di Ayii Ayamba; Dr Godfred Sei­du Jasaw; MP for Wa East, Helen Adjoa Ntoso, Krachi West, and Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah, MP, Afram Plains North.

The need for the new law, the report of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the House said was ignited following the lynching

and subsequent death of 90-year-old Akua Denteh at Kafaba in the East Gonja Municipality in the Savannah Region on accusation of witchcraft on July 23, 2020.

“It then became evident that action had to be taken since the incident raised a matter of serious public interest.

“The Bill is, therefore, meant to deter persons who may want to accuse or harm others of

being alleged witches,” the report added.

It noted that though accusa­tion of witchcraft was widespread across Africa, only Ghana has witch camps; a phenomenon which has come with stigma and human right abuses.

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The report said in 2021, “the number of inmates in the five prominent witch camps in Ghana, namely the Gnani Camp, Kukuo Camp, Gushegu Camp, Gamba­ga Camp and Kpatinga Camp totalled 539.

“Out of this number, the females constituted 498, repre­senting 92 per cent and the males were 41. The inmates were all vulnerable persons, consisting of older women, single mothers, widows and unmarried women.”

The inhumane treatments they are subjected to on suspicion of witchcraft, the report said violates their rights under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other treaties Ghana has signed on to.

That right, the report not­ed, has been reinforced by the 1992 Constitution which also provides for the prohibition of all forms of practices that are dehumanising or are injurious to the physical and mental well-be­ing of a person.

“Accusation of witchcraft is undoubtedly, a setback to the efforts to achieve the tenets of international human rights trea­ties which Ghana has ratified, including the Universal Declara­tion on Human Rights; Conven­tion against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination against Women,” the report said.

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Ghana’s ranking on the 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the report said, dropped because of the phenomenon of witchcraft in the country as mentioned in the report.

Laid in Parliament on March 31, 2023, the Bill enjoyed unanimous support from both Majority and Minority sides of the House.


Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

An Entertainment Columnist, Content Writer, Blogger, Novelist, Poet, and a Publicist. For business or story tip off, contact me on +233 24 646 6866 or email: [email protected]

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