Witchcraft accusations in Ghana could be banned by new law

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s parliament on Friday passed a bill to protect people accused of witchcraft, making it a crime to abuse them or send them away from communities.

The new law was suggested after a 90-year-old woman was lynched in Kafaba in the East Gonja Municipality of the Savannah Region in July 2020, drawing condemnation from local and international rights groups.

While it is not uncommon for people to be accused of witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural communities, the woman’s death caused a public outcry because of the brutal way she was beaten and killed.

The new bill will also order the dismantling of makeshift camps where people shunned by their communities take refuge.

Around 500 people, mainly elderly women and children, live in five such camps in the north of the country, according to Amnesty International.

“The law will provide a legal framework to prosecute offenders… and give confidence to victims… to reintegrate into their communities and unite with their families,” Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said on the floor of Parliament.

President Nana Akufo-Addo will have to approve the bill for it to take effect.

Amnesty International’s country director hailed it as a win for Ghana and for humanity.

(Reporting by Christian Akorlie and Maxwell Akalaare Adombila; Editing by Sofia Christensen)