Mrs Esther Boateng, Northern Regional Programmes Manager of ActionAid Ghana has called on government to facilitate the passage of a law that makes witchcraft accusations a criminal offence, and punishable by law.
She said people accused of witchcraft were subjected to various inhumane treatment, hence there is need for legislation to defend and protect such persons.
She emphasised that the “Government must facilitate the passage of the anti–witchcraft bill, which is currently before Parliament to safeguard the rights of victims.”
Mrs Boateng made the appeal during a stakeholder engagement forum with civil society organisations and the media to solicit inputs on witchcraft accusations, and other forms of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence to demand for the appropriate legislation that ensured victims’ rights.
Songtaba, a non-governmental organisation working to advance the rights of women and girls in Ghana’s Northern Region, in partnership with ActionAid, also a non-governmental organisation, working against poverty and injustice, of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Violence organized the forum.
Hajia Adam Lamnatu, Executive Director of Songtaba said various efforts were already in place to ensure the safety of alleged witches including the formation of the Witches Reintegration Committee, which had succeeded in reintegrating some alleged witches into their communities.
She added that the passage of the anti -witchcraft bill would further restore sanity and dignity to the victims.
A press statement jointly presented at the event by three youth groups including Activista – Ghana, Youth Advocacy Movement, and Young Urban Women Movement, called for reforms to support alleged witches.
The statement said: “We gathered here with a shared vision of ending human rights abuses with the call on government and other key stakeholders to facilitate the process of criminalising witchcraft accusations and its associated rights violations.”
It called on Parliament “To speed up work on the anti -witchcraft bill by calling for a memorandum from interested groups and CSOs to ensure the bill is finalised and operationalised.”
The statement appealed to government, traditional authorities, and religious leaders to use their influence and voice to ensure an end to dehumanising cultural practices like child marriage, female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women and girls.