An Anti-Witchcraft Accusations Bill Coalition has been launched to push the passage of the Anti-Witchcraft Bill in Parliament.
The Coalition which was launched on Thursday, 18 May 2023, is dedicated to combating the dangers associated with the accusation of people as witches.
The Anti-witchcraft Bill, seeks to criminalise the practice of declaring, accusing, naming, or labelling people as witches as well as provide protection for victims.
Speaking to Class91.3FM’s Kekeli Havila on the sidelines of the launch, one of the Conveners for the Coalition, Professor John Azumah, of the Sanneh Institute explained the role of the Coalition.
“Our task is to really push for a bill that criminalises witchcraft accusations and our second task to really help with the education of the import of the bill but also to make victims know that they have been empowered. That there is some kind of a bill that gives them the encouragement and confidence to speak out and to challenge when people accuse them of witchcraft.
“Finally it is to work towards reintegrating some of the victims who are currently languishing in some of the camps.”
Professor Azumah indicated that the coalition will be working with chiefs and headmen and other civil society organisations to see how best they can be reintegrated back into their societies where they belong.
He noted that the coalition will support Parliament in facilitating their work to get the bill through the various stages into becoming law because it is a private members’ bill.
“We need to be there to lobby the MPs. We as Civil Society Organisation, we don’t have a vote to cast but we can lobby the MPs, and that’s one of the things that the Coalition will be doing to make sure that the bill goes through,” he said.
A member of the coalition, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina and a lead advocate for the Anti-Witchcraft Accusation Bill in Parliament, Francis-Xavier Sosu, also explained the importance of the coalition with reference to Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution which stresses on the dignity of every Ghanaian being inviolable.
“When you look at the statistics available, anytime people are accused of witchcraft they are even chained to either trees or some metals in some traditional homes. Some are mistreated in some churches, some are referred to witch camps mostly in the North, all these people are mistreated,” he said.
The Madina MP continued that: “Irrespective of how people are accused, it is important that they are protected. Unfortunately, the witchcraft practice generally violates this provisions of our Constitution.”
The MP further noted “Now that I have the opportunity to be in Parliament, it is important that I would translate my advocacy into action where we can lead the way to pass laws that can crimilise the practice, laws that criminilise people who carry themselves as witch doctors, laws that would criminalise the accusation of people and all that happens when people are accused, laws that criminalise the spaces used for these accusation, for example, the communities where these things are prevalent, we have some community leaders”.