Parliament Passes Anti-Witchcraft Bill? Here Is What We Know

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Parliament passed a law criminalizing the declaration, charge, designation or labeling of another person as a witch doctor in Ghana. Here is what we know about the anti-witchcraft bill.

The amendment approved Thursday also bans anyone from practicing the profession of witch or wizard.

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Speaking in Parliament, President Alban Bagbin, who announced that the Criminal Offenses Amendment Bill 2022 had been read for the third time and approved, explained that he had amended the Criminal Offenses Act 1960 Criminal Law, Law 29.

“Prohibition of the practice by any person as a witch or wizard, prohibiting the declaration, accusation, naming or labeling of another person as a witch and related matters.”

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Speaking with Kwaku Asante, one of the bill’s sponsors, MP for Wa East, Dr. Godfred Seidu Jassaw said he expected the president to sign the bill right away.

Meanwhile, Medina MP Francis Xavier Sosu, co-sponsor of the bill, said that after the bill passes, witch camps across the country will be dissolved.

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Parliament Passes Anti-Witchcraft Bill? Here Is What We Know
Parliament Passes Anti-Witchcraft Bill? Here Is What We Know

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He said the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare will also take steps to reintegrate the inmates of these camps into society.

Background

In 2020, Madame Akua Denteh, 90, was lynched in the Savanah area after being accused of being a witch. In a video seen by Myjoyonline.com, the deceased was slapped, kicked and beaten in Kafaba near Salaga in East Gonja Township in the Savannah region, as she was accused of being a witch.

Six people were subsequently arrested, including Kafaba leader Zackaria Yahaya, for their role in the horrific murder.

Many Ghanaians, including President Akufo-Addo, condemned the killing, but there have been few such incidents since then, leading to the passage of this bill.

In 2021, three MPs introduced the Private Member’s Bill to amend the Criminal and Other Offenses Act 1960 (Act 29) to ban the practice by any person as a witch or wizard.

The sponsors are respectively the MPs of Madina, Pusiga and Wa East constituencies, Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, Hajia Laadi Ayii Ayamba and Dr. Godfred Seidu Jasaw.

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