Uganda: Legislator Drafts Bill to Ban Witchdoctors

13 December 2018

Kampala — The chairman of Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children and Ayivu County MP, Mr Bernard Atiku, has prepared a Private Member's Bill seeking to regulate traditional healers and ban witchdoctors in a bid to address issues of human sacrifice and other harmful practices.

Speaking during a consultative meeting in Kampala yesterday, Mr Atiku said from the consultations carried out in Busia, Nakasongola, Rakai and Buikwe districts, people called for a ban of witchcraft and shrines in the country which they said is a major cause of child sacrifice.

"If you are to follow cases that concern human sacrifice in this country, all of them have been associated with witchcraft and shrines serve as a place where people go to consult witchdoctors or they are used to slaughter children," Mr Atiku said.

"There are fears that attempting to ban shrines might violate people's freedom of worship but if it is a religious shrine, there must be standards," he added.

However, some local leaders said there should be a clear distinction between traditional healers, herbalists and witchdoctors. They also called for a clear definition of witchcraft to ease monitoring.

"Let us use the help of these universities that we have to do research and distinguish between traditional healers and witchdoctors. Remember some of the witchdoctors pretend to be traditional healers during the day and [become] witchdoctors at night," Mr Mathias Kigongo, the Buikwe District chairperson, said.

The Bill states that although the witchcraft Act prohibits the practice of ritual sacrifices, the law is too inadequate to deal with human sacrifice.

"For instance, Section 7 was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court for contravening Article 21 of the Constitution and has not been enforced to prosecute human sacrifice cases caused by witchcraft practices," the Bill states.

Ms Racheal Kaseggu, a parent, testified about how her neighbour allegedly sacrificed her son in a ritual for completion of his house and dumped the body in a pit-latrine.

Ms Kaseggu accused the suspect's lawyers of causing adjournment of the case since August to delay the hearing and a decent burial for her son.

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