You Could Be Jailed 5 Years For Accusing Someone of Witchcraft

Parliament has passed the Criminal Amendment Bill 2022, which criminalises the declaration, accusation, naming or labelling of another person as a witch in Ghana.

The amendment bill, passed on Thursday, July 27, 2023, also forbids anyone from practising as a witch doctor or witchfinder.

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, who announced that the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill 2022 had been read for the third time and passed, explained that Parliament had amended the Criminal Offences Act 1960, Act 29, “to prohibit the practice by any person as a witch doctor or a witchfinder, to proscribe the declaration, accusation, naming or labelling of another person as a witch and for related matters.”

Moreover, “people who accuse individuals in society of being witches are to be jailed for five years”.

The accusation of people as witches to the extent of lynching has existed for over one hundred years.

The story of the 90-year-old Akua Denteh, who was brutally lynched in Kafaba, near Salaga, in the Savana Region in 2020, highlights the problem in society.

There are some witch camps in Bonyasi, Gambaga, Gnani, Kpatinga, Kukuo and Naabuli, all in northern Ghana, where people have been camped with the tag of being witches.

Witchcraft accusations in Ghana have been a concern of the Coalition Against Witchcraft Accusation (CAWA), Member of Parliament for Madina Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, Amnesty International and other human rights organisations.

Addressing the media after the bill’s passage, the Madina MP said all witch camps in Ghana are now illegal.

“What we are saying is that you cannot accuse somebody of witchcraft. If you do, that’s criminal so the law will take its cause. We are not interfering in anybody’s cultural setting. If you are using your wizardly or witchcraft for positive development, go ahead and do it. But if you accuse somebody based on your black magic, or charms, that is not acceptable. That’s where the problem is.”

“By the passing of this law, it means that all witch camps stand proscribed. In other words, they are all illegal,” he noted.


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