12 Jun 2011

Nigerian police rescue 32 pregnant teens locked up and forced to produce babies for witchcraft rituals

BBC News  -  June 1, 2011

Nigeria 'baby farm' girls rescued by Abia state police

Nigerian police have raided a hospital in the south-eastern city of Aba, rescuing 32 pregnant girls allegedly held by a human-trafficking ring.

Aged between 15 and 17 years, the girls were locked up and used to produce babies, said Abia state's police chief.

These were then allegedly sold for ritual witchcraft purposes or adoption.

But the hospital's owner denied running a "baby farm", saying it was a foundation to help teenagers with unwanted pregnancies.

The UN organisation for the welfare of children, Unicef, estimates that at least 10 children are sold daily across Nigeria, where human-trafficking is ranked the third most common crime after economic fraud and drug-trafficking.

But the BBC's Fidelis Mbah in the southern city of Port Harcourt says it is very rare for traffickers to be caught and prosecuted.Male babies prized

Abia state Police Commissioner Bala Hassan said four babies, already sold in an alleged human-trafficking deal but not yet collected, were also recovered in the raid on The Cross Foundation hospital.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip), the organisation charged with fighting human-trafficking in Nigeria, says their investigations show that babies are sold for up to $6,400 (£3,900) each, depending on the sex of the baby.

Male babies are more prized, our correspondent says.

In some parts of the country, babies killed as part of witchcraft rituals are believed to make the charms more powerful, he says.

Human traffickers also put the children up for illegal adoption.

Poor, unmarried women face tough choices if they get pregnant in Nigeria, often facing exclusion from society, correspondents say.

Natip says desperate teenagers with unplanned pregnancies are sometimes lured to clinics and then forced to turn over their babies.

Some of the girls rescued in Aba told the police that after their new-born babies were sold, they were given $170 by the hospital owner.

The police said the proprietor of The Cross Foundation, Dr Hyacinth Orikara, is likely to face charges of child abuse and human trafficking.

Our correspondent says the buying or selling of babies is illegal in Nigeria and can carry a 14-year jail term.

The police carried out similar raids on such clinics in neighbouring Enugu state in 2008.

Three years ago, a Nigerian woman was jailed in the UK for trying to smuggle a baby into the country in order to get on the list for a council flat.

This article was found at:

AlterNet - June 10, 2011

Teens Locked Up and Forced to Give Birth to Kids Sold into Slavery -- How Can This Happen, and What Can We Do About It?

By Jessica Mack, AlterNet

Last week, BBC broke the story of what has been dubbed a “baby farm” in southern Nigeria. Nigerian police raided the grounds, “rescuing” more than 30 poor teenagers who had reportedly been locked up and forced to bring their unwanted pregnancies to term, only to relinquish their babies to human traffickers or purveyors of body parts for witchcraft. It’s the stuff of a horror film, and, oddly enough, it is.

Except this is really happening, to real women, in real time. BBC first reported a “baby farm”raid in a nearby Nigerian city back in 2008. Clearly, there is something very wrong here – both in what’s happening to these women in Nigeria, but also in the way that these issues are being conveyed in the global media.

Human trafficking remains an outstanding problem in Nigeria, despite earning the US State Department’s “stamp of approval” on its anti-trafficking efforts. Since 2009, the annualTrafficking in Persons Report has ranked Nigeria as a Tier 1 country, signifying the government’s full compliance with the US’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Though “compliance” doesn’t necessarily mean effective prevention of or protection from trafficking. With this “baby farm” situation, we see the tenuous value that such rankings have for reality on the ground. While the Nigerian government has stepped up its anti-trafficking efforts in recent years, increasing prison sentences and fines still won’t address precipitating factors.

To start, women in Nigeria, and especially young women, are undervalued. There is a dearth of ready access to affordable and high quality reproductive health care services, and moreover social and cultural taboos about accessing such services. Early marriage and early pregnancy remain common, and you can guess that maternal mortality is also quite high. Abortion is restricted almost entirely, and highly stigmatized beyond that.

BBC writes, “Desperate teenagers with unplanned pregnancies are sometimes lured to clinics and then forced to turn over their babies.” Horrible, and it gets worse. Desperate teenagers with unwanted pregnancies also seek fatal care from quack abortion providers. Women regularly play Russian roulette with concoctions (bleach and ground glass) and gruesome instruments (knitting needles) just to preserve some semblance of reproductive choice.

The operative issue here is “desperate teenagers with unwanted pregnancies.” Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, no small claim, and almost 45% of the population is under the age of 15. This is not some measly minority; young people comprise the mitochondria of the nation and are the future of this emerging country. Yet their health and rights needs are so often cast aside.

In a 2009 report, the Guttmacher Institute maintained that national policies to protect the reproductive health and rights of young people have not been sufficiently implemented or enacted. Why hasn’t there been more done to address the unique health and rights needs of this set?

Perhaps it’s a little like national anti-trafficking efforts: there on paper, mysteriously absent or positively ineffective on the ground. This vast divide between vision and reality is what local and global advocates should push the government to reconcile. The recent presidential election, for example, might have been an opportune time to raise these neglected issues. Sure there’s a lot else going on, but there always is. The sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people are chronically marginalized, so perhaps it’s time to force the issue.

There are amazing national and international reproductive health advocates and providers doing work to counteract the heaps of risks and vulnerabilities which too often complicate women’s lives in Nigeria, but the battle is uphill. It is past due that the government put some muscle behind this. The US should hold more accountability, too, than simply superficial compliance on trafficking. They should urge the Nigerian government to examine the intersection of healthcare system failures and trafficking vulnerabilities.

These might have been salient points for the BBC to touch upon in its coverage of this issue, especially since four years after they first reported on baby farms, here we are with no discernible change. Alas.

Given rightful sensitivities about how Africa and Africans are portrayed by almost everyone else in the world and/or especially the global media, the BBC needs to check the caliber of their coverage. For starters, the 2011 article on “baby farms,” includes at least one typo, and a sentence cribbed verbatim from the 2008 piece. It’s not clear where or when the awful phrase “baby farm” was coined, but I must say that’s macabre marketing genius right there. BBC’s use of the term in its title is sensationalistic – link baiting even – and distracts from the complexity and gravity of the issue.

Human trafficking, human rights abuses, false imprisonment, reproductive choice, I mean there’s a lot to take in here. This is a highly disturbing scenario, but only further perverted by the use of this phrase. While there are human rights and human lives at stake here, the term caricatures a complex set of issues, and objectifies those involved – the babies, the young women, and even Nigeria itself.

For some readers perusing this eye-catching article (also covered in the New York Daily News, natch), this may be their first introduction to social justice or health issues in Nigeria. Let’s see what they’ll get: baby farm, witchcraft, desperate, poverty, corruption, crime, and savagery. The article “otherizes” these issues, painting Nigeria as a horrid place where such a ghastly things occur.

Yet, this notion of using pregnancy as a fulcrum for manipulating women is not so “other,” not so savage and foreign after all. It happens all over the world, and it happens right here in the US. For instance, increased discussion and examination of crisis pregnancy centers is revealing just how manipulative and coercive their tactics can be. Who do they often target? Poor, desperate young women with unwanted pregnancies. In addition, one could argue that, in fact, no one is more immersed in finding ways to manipulate women via reproductive rights than the US Congress.

BBC states the obvious: “poor, unmarried women face tough choices if they get pregnant in Nigeria.” Um, yes. I think we can safely substitute any country in the world in that sentence and it would read just as true. In fact, we can say that young women face tremendous reproductive health challenges all over the world. Now that we know this, what are we going to do about it?

This article was found at:


Mother pleads guilty to child cruelty and neglect for religious ritual abuse she believed would protect her daughter

Ritual abuse of children accused of witchcraft in UK mostly unreported, authorities only alerted in extreme cases

Nigerian children's rights advocate harassed and arrested before he could give evidence to Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft

Nigerian Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons begins commission on abuse of children accused of witchcraft

Torture of Nigerian girl by father claiming she is a witch reveals brutality of religious superstitions used against children

Nigerian children accused of witchcraft shunned, tortured and murdered in the name of Jesus

Liberty Gospel Church members assault children's rights activists at meeting to end 'child-witch' atrocities

Children are targets of Nigerian witch hunt

Widespread human rights violations are taking place on a daily basis against Nigeria's so called child "witches"

Protecting the Akwa Ibom Children of Nigeria From Ritual Abuse

Nigerian State Governor warns churches against labeling innocent children witches

'Child-witches' of Nigeria seek refuge

Saving Child Witches: A Nigerian Perspective

Extremely abusive exorcisms of children branded as witches on the rise in the U.K.

UNICEF report documents tens of thousands of children abused and murdered as witches in East Africa

American evangelists export biblical literalism to Africa triggering murderous homophobia and child sacrifice

Rapid growth of evangelical Christianity in Africa responsible for torture and murder of thousands of kids denounced as witches

African Children Falsely Accused of Witchcraft

Persecuting the African child

Abuse of child 'witches' on rise, aid group says

Witch hunt: Africa's hidden war on women

Christian Extremism: Witchcraft, Murder and Child Abuse

Christian belief in demon possession leads to physical, spiritual and psychological abuse of children

Child sacrifice and other atrocities ignored by believers who consider the Bible the source of morality

New book on origins of Christianity details the outrageous suffering of children at the hands of ancient religious leaders

Child sacrifice: a review of the documentary All God's Children - the ultimate sacrifice

The Nightmare of Christianity: How Religious Indoctrination Led to Murder

Child sacrifice and ritual murders rise in Uganda as famine looms

Uganda’s epidemic of child sacrifice

Uganda: Muslim women ask parliament to convene special session on child sacrifice, ritual murders

Spiralling acts of bloody child sacrifice in Uganda linked to West African prosperity cult

UGANDA: Church leaders want action on ritual killings of children

Angolan police rescue 29 children accused of witchcraft

Tanzania: 13-year-old albino boy killed for body parts sold for use in witchcraft

Pastor held for locking up 'child sorcerers'

Young girl murdered after being accused of witchcraft


  1. Where child sacrifice is a business

    By Chris Rogers BBC News, October 11,2011

    Kampala -- The villages and farming communities that surround Uganda's capital, Kampala, are gripped by fear. Schoolchildren are closely watched by teachers and parents as they make their way home from school. In playgrounds and on the roadside are posters warning of the danger of abduction by witch doctors for the purpose of child sacrifice.

    The ritual, which some believe brings wealth and good health, was almost unheard of in the country until about three years ago, but it has re-emerged, seemingly alongside a boom in the country's economy. The mutilated bodies of children have been discovered at roadsides, the victims of an apparently growing belief in the power of human sacrifice.

    Many believe that members of the country's new elite are paying witch doctors vast sums of money for the sacrifices in a bid to increase their wealth. At the Kyampisi Childcare Ministries church, Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga is teaching local children a song called Heal Our Land, End Child Sacrifice. To hear dozens of young voices singing such shocking words epitomises how ritual murder has become part of everyday life here.

    "Child sacrifice has risen because people have become lovers of money. They want to get richer," the pastor says. "They have a belief that when you sacrifice a child you get wealth, and there are people who are willing to buy these children for a price. So they have become a commodity of exchange, child sacrifice has become a commercial business."

    The pastor and his parishioners are lobbying the government to regulate witch doctors and improve police resources to investigate these crimes. According to official police figures, there was one case of child sacrifice in 2006; in 2008 the police say they investigated 25 alleged ritual murders, and in 2009, another 29. The Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force, launched in response to the growing numbers, says the ritual murder rate has slowed, citing a figure of 38 cases since 2006.

    Pastor Sewakiryanga disputes the police numbers, and says there are more victims from his parish than official statistics for the entire country.
    The work of the police task force has been strongly criticised by the UK-based charity, Jubilee Campaign. It says in a report that the true number of cases is in the hundreds, and claims more than 900 cases have yet to be investigated by the police because of corruption and a lack of resources.


    Pastor Sewakiryanga says without the full force of the law, there is little that can be done to protect Uganda's children from the belief in the power of human sacrifice.

    "The children do not have voices, their voices have been silenced by the law and the police not acting, and the people who read the newspapers do nothing, so we have to make a stand and do whatever it takes to stamp out this evil, we can only pray that the government will listen."

    read the full article at:


  2. Ritual to ‘exorcise girl’s demons’

    by Neil Oelofse - Cape Times, South Africa November 21 2011

    A Humansdorp priest and five of the African Gospel Church congregation have been accused of murdering a seven-year-old girl during a bizarre exorcism ritual, believing that her epilepsy was caused by demons.

    Pastor Lonwabo Thando, 30, and Mhlabelesi Nodaka, 22, Unathi Norushu, 22, Nteboheng Thukani, 21, and Busisiwe Thukani, 24, appeared in the Humansdorp Magistrate’s Court last week charged with murdering Mihlali Mazantsi.

    They will stay in jail till they apply for bail today, along with a 32-year-old man who was also part of the “prayer group” which apparently tried to do the exorcism.

    Police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the last suspect was arrested at the weekend. She said police would oppose bail for all the accused.

    They are also charged with the attempted murder of a 25-year-old woman who was allegedly locked in a house in KwaNomzamo township for four weeks and repeatedly assaulted.

    Mihlali was apparently sent from her home in Keiskammahoek to the church by her mother, Nomaxabiso Mazantsi, to be cured of epilepsy with a “healing miracle”.

    Mazantsi told the Cape Times yesterday that her daughter started having epileptic fits in May.

    “The fits stopped but started up again in September. We took her to the doctor and the traditional healer, but nothing helped.”

    The church in Humansdorp was recommended by friends.

    “We were told that other people were healed there. I put my faith in God. I wanted them to heal Mihlali.” Mazantsi said her father took Mihlali to Humansdorp and left her in the care of the church.

    “They told us the fits were caused by demons which had to be removed through prayer.”

    She travelled to Humansdorp a few days later to find her child vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea. She slept overnight in the same house as her child, but was initially not allowed close to her.

    “They told me she was getting better. The pastor said she was vomiting because the demons were leaving Mihlali.”

    Mazantsi said she was encouraged to attend a church service in a marquee tent set up by the church near the house where her daughter was being kept, and was later allowed to go to her bedside.

    “Her face was swollen and her left eye was closed. There was a bruise over her eye. I tried to lift her up to me to hug her, but she said her body was sore. Then she coughed and started to vomit again.”

    Mazantsi said Pastor Thando shook her daughter by the shoulders while calling out her name. “Then pastor took her to hospital in his BMW. I followed in our car.”

    A doctor who examined the girl told the mother it was “too late”.

    “The doctor was angry. He wanted to know who had done this. He said he was calling the police,” said Mazantsi.

    She said a post-mortem examination had revealed liver damage and a number of external and internal injuries.

    Naidu said the woman who filed the charge of attempted murder did not want to be named.

    “She is a member of the community and fears for her life.” She was given a medical examination and found to have injuries and bruises all over her body.

    According to reports, Kwanomzamo residents celebrated the arrest of the priest and the congregants.

    They said church members often ran through the township after midnight making a noise and accused people who did not attend church of practising witchcraft.


  3. Americans Should Protest Nigerian Witch-Hunter's Visit

    by Michael Mungai, Huffington Post January 11, 2012

    If you live in the U.S. and you are:

    •In bondage
    •Having bad dreams
    •Under a witchcraft attack or oppression
    •Possessed by mermaid spirits or other evil spirits
    •Barren and having frequent miscarriages
    •Experiencing an unsuccessful life of disappointment
    •Experiencing financial impotency with difficulties
    •Facing victimization and a lack of promotion
    •Experiencing a stagnant life with failures

    ...You need not wait for too long. Helen Ukpabio, a Nigerian evangelist, will be traveling to the United States in March where she will be preaching in Texas. All ye people in the U.S. who have been struggling with the possession of mermaid spirits no longer have to be like fish out of water, someone's finally coming to shore you up.

    While it is laughable that there are credulous people in this world who believe in such fishy claims, the real issue that should trouble every American is that their impending guest is also a notorious child-witch hunter. Ukpabio alleges that Satan constantly manifests himself in the bodies of children through demonic possession, turning them into witches and wizards. Condemned as witches, these children are splashed with acid, buried alive, immersed in fire or expelled from their communities. According to Nigerian humanist campaigner Leo Igwe, Ukpabio "is a Christian fundamentalist and a Biblical literalist. She uses her sermons, teachings and prophetic declarations to incite hatred, intolerance and persecution of alleged witches and wizards." Ukpabio, we learn from Igwe, claims to be an ex-witch, who later founded her own church to pursue her "anointed mission" of delivering people from witchcraft. Her ministry's services include deliverance sessions that identify and cast out demons. Her church has extended witch- hunting branches all over Nigeria and even to other countries.

    This won't be Ukpabio's first trip to the United States. In her last visit to Houston, Texas in 2010, she defended herself by arguing that her critics pick on her because she is an African. She cited J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series, arguing that if Westerners do not take Rowling's work seriously, then she (Ukpabio) is a hapless victim of Western racism. However, while Rowling's readers tend to buy brooms, hats and "magic wands" for their children to play with, parents inspired by Ukpabio are more likely to buy machetes and physically confront the alleged demons living in their children's bodies. Also, citing Western interference and racism has now become the mantra for many unscrupulous Africans pursuing self-serving ends. They unfairly take advantage of Africa's injurious history with the West, a topic that elicits sentimental reactions from most Africans whenever it is invoked.

    "If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan," Ukpabio writes in her book, Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft. In many rural African settings, these symptoms are common in almost all babies. In a country where more than 10 percent of children die before they reach five years, what these babies need is immediate medical attention. By instructing gullible Nigerian parents to persecute their own children, she continues to enrich herself, through her books and remittances from exorcisms. In this, she joins the growing list of televangelists who are fleecing poor Africans all over the continent, promising "miracles" for a fee.

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    I first learned of her nefarious campaign in the heartbreaking documentary, Dispatches: Return to Africa's Witch Children. For the past nine years, I have worked with street children in Kenya, most of them coming from abusive backgrounds. I have watched over young boys who occasionally experience dreadful nightmares due to the trauma they endured under violent parents, guardians or relatives. This distress haunts the children for a long time and their suffering has caused substantial inhibition of their psychological and intellectual growth. It therefore disturbs me to see Ukpabio, hiding behind the immunity of religion, inflicting even worse torture on Nigerian children.

    My appeal to rational Americans is to ensure that Ukpabio, with her hateful campaign against defenseless children, knows that she is not welcome in their country. She should be met with hostility similar to the protests against the Pope's visit to the United Kingdom. While we should all respect the freedom of everyone to practice their religion, this respect should stop where it starts harming those around them. Like in the popular phrase attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins. In the name of religion, crimes against children continue with no justice or accountability from relevant authorities. However, protesting against Ukpabio's visit to America would be a step towards the right direction in giving a voice to her unfortunate little victims.


  5. Nepalese woman accused of witchcraft and burned alive

    Attack witnessed by her 9-year-old daughter

    From Manesh Shrestha, CNN February 18, 2012

    Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- A 40-year-old mother of two was burned alive in central Nepal after she was accused of being a witch, police said Saturday.

    Dhegani Mahato was attacked and set on fire by family members and others after a shaman allegedly accused her of casting a spell to make one of her relatives sick, Police Officer Hira Mani Baral said.

    The attack occurred Friday in Bagauda in Chitwan district, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, Baral said by telephone.

    Police arrested 10 people, including two shamans, five women and an 8-year-old boy, in connection with the burning.
    "Those arrested have confessed to their crime and will be charged with murder," Baral said.

    Mahato had just finished cleaning a cowshed early in the morning when she was attacked, Baral said.
    She was beaten with sticks and rocks before being doused with kerosene and set afire, an attack witnessed by her 9-year-old daughter, according to the local police report.

    Neighbors told police they were alerted to the attack but by then it was too late to save her.

    Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai appealed to the people not to heed to shamans and faith healers.

    The government announced 1 million Nepalese rupees (about $14,000) in compensation for Mahato's two children.


  6. Witchcraft trial: there may be similar unreported cases, say police

    Alexandra Topping, Guardian UK March 1, 2012

    Police and groups representing African communities have warned that ritualised abuse of children branded as witches is an under-reported and hidden crime in the UK, as a man and woman were convicted of murdering a 15-year-old boy because they believed he was a witch.

    Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu, both 28, murdered Magalie's brother Kristy Bamu in their east London flat after violently abusing him for several days because they believed he was possessed by evil spirits.

    Bikubi and Bamu also accused two of the teenager's sisters of witchcraft and were found guilty of causing actual bodily harm after abusing them for several days. The pair will be sentenced on Monday.

    Over four days, Kristy, who was visiting his sister with his siblings from France for Christmas, was tortured with metal bars, a chisel, a hammer and a pair of pliers in a "prolonged attack of unspeakable savagery and brutality", the court heard.

    In a victim impact statement Pierre Bamu, Kristy's father, said: "The fact that Kristy died at the hands of those who were expected to look after him and his siblings makes it all the more difficult for us to come to terms with."

    He said the family had been betrayed over the killing of a "fine young man", adding: "We will never forget, but to put our lives back into sync we must forgive."

    Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe said the Met police had done a great deal of work to understand and deal with belief-based child abuse. "However, this is a hidden and under-reported crime and therefore difficult to deal with in terms of protecting potential victims from harm," he said.

    Kristy's ordeal began soon after he arrived in London on 16 December 2010. Bikubi, a man he thought of as his uncle, accused him of witchcraft after he wet himself. He forced Kristy and two of his sisters who he also believed were witches – Kelly, 20, and their 11-year-old sister, who cannot be named – to pray, denying them food and sleep in an attempt to "remove the kindoki", the Lingala word for witchcraft.

    Bikubi – helped and encouraged by Bamu – then focused on Kristy, using an "armoury of weapons". He beat the child with a metal bar used for weights, shoved a metal bar into the teenager's mouth, forced him to eat a screw and struck him with a hammer in the face, knocking out his teeth. Bamu also beat him, taking a pair of pliers and wrenching his ear.

    On Christmas Day 2010, when Kristy was weakened due to the beatings, Bikubi forced the boy and his siblings into a bath to wash away the evil spirits. He doused them with water and, as the bath filled, Kristy was submerged and drowned.

    When Kristy was found by paramedics in the eighth-floor flat in Forest Gate, his head, face, back and arms were covered in deep cuts and bruises, and several of his teeth were missing. Pathologist reports revealed he suffered 101 injuries and died as a result of drowning and the injuries.

    Giving evidence through a French interpreter, Kelly said the pair were fixated on the idea that the three siblings were practising witchcraft. "It was as if they were obsessed by that and then it became absolutely unbearable," she told the court. "I repeated again and again and again that we were not witches that we had come there to spend Christmas as a family together. But I don't know what was going on in their minds. They decided we were there to kill them."

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  7. continued from previous comment:

    In a "staggering act of depravity and cruelty", the defendants recruited sibling against sibling as "vehicles for their violence", with Kristy's brother forced to stand guard to make sure he did not escape. Just before he died, two of the younger children were made to clean up Kristy's blood, which covered the flat.

    In a joint statement, the NSPCC and World Vision said Kristy's was not an isolated case: "The vast majority of people in the communities where it can take place are horrified by these acts and take no part in this atrocious behaviour, so we must not be afraid to challenge these communities to out the wrong-doers within them.

    In a statement, Congolese Pastorship UK denounced any ritualised child abuse and said it planned to improve its monitoring system and procedures with a refresher child safeguarding programme.

    On Christmas day, the day Kristy died, Bikubi called his father Pierre Bamu and threatened to kill the child, before passing the phone to Kristy who also warned him that Bikubi would kill him.But Pierre dismissed fears about the children because he could not imagine Bikubi doing any harm to them. Kristy's parents then attempted to get a last-minute hire car but failed, and instead decided to arrive as planned two days later. A few hours later, they received a call from Kelly to tell them Kristy was dead.

    Pierre Bamu said in a statement at the Old Bailey that the pain of Kristy's death was "something which cannot be measured or calculated", adding that the family had been betrayed by Bikubi and his daughter. "We were always fond of Eric and regarded him as a son. We were proud that he would call us Mum and Dad. As a family we planned our futures together and Eric and I were to open a restaurant in London together as a legacy for our family," he wrote. "Kristy was a fine young man, kind and considerate, much loved by his family and friends. We saw that he was becoming a man."


  8. Arrests made following three human sacrifices carried out by followers of Saint Death cult

    The Associated Press HERMOSILLO, Mexico March 30, 2012

    Warning: This story contains graphic details

    Eight people have been arrested for allegedly killing two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman in ritual sacrifices by the cult of La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, prosecutors in northern Mexico said Friday.

    Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the victims' blood was poured around an altar to the saint, which is depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.

    The grisly slayings recalled the notorious “narco-satanicos” killings of the 1980s, when 15 bodies, many of them with signs of ritual sacrifice, were unearthed at a ranch outside the border city of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.

    While Saint Death has become the focus of a cult among drug traffickers and criminals in Mexico in recent years, there have been no confirmed cases of human sacrifices in Mexico to the scary-looking saint, which is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Worshippers usually offer candy, cigarettes and incense to the skeleton-statue.

    Mr. Larrinaga said the first of the three victims was apparently killed in 2009, the second in 2010 and the latest earlier this month. Investigations show signs of brutal ritual sacrifice.

    “The ritual was held at nighttime, they lit candles,” Mr. Larrinaga said. “They sliced open the victims' veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container.”

    Authorities began investigating after the last victim, 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez, was reported missing March 6 by his stepfather.

    Investigations led authorities to the altar site in the Sonora city of Nacozari, about 110 km south of Douglas, Arizona.

    Larrinaga said the arrests were made after tests by forensic experts on Thursday found blood traces spread over 30 square meters around the altar.

    Those arrested included Silvia Meraz, who Mr. Larrinaga said spread the blood around the altar, and her son Ramon Palacios, who allegedly killed the victims. The spokesman identified them as the leaders of the cult.

    Mr. Larrinaga initially gave The Associated Press the wrong name for the suspected male leader, saying it was Martin Barron Lopez. The spokesman later corrected the suspect to Palacios and said the name he wrongly gave out was that of the last victim's stepfather.

    Ms. Meraz answered questions to reporters when she was shown to news media Friday.

    “We all agreed to do it. Supposedly she was a witch or something,” she said, referring to the women victim. She did not respond to questions about the boys' killings.

    The other suspects, many of them relatives, included people ranging from a 15-year-old girl to a 44-year-old woman.

    The “narco-satanicos” killings of the 1980s were committed by a cult of drug traffickers who believed that ritual sacrifices would shield them from police. Victims of the cult, many of whose members are still in prison, included Mark Kilroy, a 21-year-old University of Texas pre-med student.

    The narco-satanicos have no connection to the Saint Death cult, which gained widespread popularity around the 2000, although the two share some similarities. Followers of Saint Death believe they gain protection by worshipping “Death.”


  9. Mexico's Own Satanic Panic

    By JOSEPH LAYCOCK, Religion Dispatches April 10, 2012

    In 1969, the murders committed by Charles Manson and his “family” convinced many that just under the surface of the hippie counterculture lurked a network of criminal Satanism. Every flower child in the country became a potential Manson, ready to commit an act of ritualistic violence in the name of a deviant spirituality—and Manson's legacy persisted through the Satanic Panic of the 80s, his name invoked as a reminder of the threat of devil-inspired crime.

    Mexico may have experienced its own “Manson moment” last month when eight devotees of “Santa Muerte” were arrested for the murder of three people, allegedly as human sacrifices. While the media has been fairly restrained in covering this event, these murders will likely have lasting consequences for alternative religion in North America. Like the Manson murders, the Santa Muerte murders present a concrete instance of violence that can be used to support much broader claims about the dangers of the religious and cultural Other.

    In Mexican folk tradition, Santa Muerte or “Saint Death” is portrayed as a skeletal woman, often wearing a white cloak or a wedding dress. She claims devotees among all walks of life, but her help is especially sought by the very poor as well as narcos or drug cartels.

    Spanish records suggest prayers were offered to Santa Muerte as early as the eighteenth century, but in the last ten years, devotion to Saint Death has grown exponentially, fueled in part by the fear and anxiety created by Mexico’s escalating drug wars. Gifts of flowers, candy, alcohol, and tobacco are often left at shrines to Santa Muerte. There have been rumors of human sacrifice only in the last few years and these have (until now) been unsubstantiated.

    On March 6, Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez, 10, was reported missing from the town of Nacozari, Mexico, near the Arizona border. Investigators discovered an altar to Santa Muerte and forensics revealed traces of blood spread over thirty square meters around the altar.

    On March 28, authorities searched the home of Silvia Meraz, whose house had already been under surveillance for suspected prostitution. Inside, they found the body of the missing child buried under the floorboards in the bedroom of one of Meraz’s daughters. Members of Meraz’s family then led authorities to two more graves. Here, they discovered the remains of Martin Rios, 10, who had been missing since July 2010, as well as Cleotilde Romero, 55, missing since 2009.

    All three victims were allegedly killed as offerings to Santa Muerte in exchange for supernatural aid and protection. The family has no apparent ties to drug cartels and it is unclear if anyone acted as the leader in organizing the murders.

    Catholic Church authorities have condemned devotion to Santa Muerte as diabolic. The Mexican government has destroyed shrines to Saint Death in an attempt to suppress narco culture. In the United States, “occult crime experts” have implied that Santa Muerte is linked to ritualistic violence. Awareness of Santa Muerte has also fused with anti-immigration sentiments, giving rise to fears of “criminal gangs motivated by bloodlust and kinky spiritualism.”

    Last month’s grisly discovery would seem to validate claims that Santa Muerte represents a dangerous criminal movement. But are the tragic deaths in Nacozari an index of future religious violence? Is everyone who wears Nike’s Santa Muerte sneakers a potential murderer?

    continued in next comment...

  10. continued from previous comment:

    In sociology, “convergence” refers to the linking of two disparate things, creating an unwarranted parallel between them. An isolated but critical event (like a murder) gets linked in the public mind to a widespread phenomenon (like an outsider religious movement). The result is moral panic.

    We're seeing evidence of this exact link in English-language news coverage of these murders.

    In court, Meraz claimed she had only been a follower of Santa Muerte for about two years; the beliefs of her group were not rooted in a larger tradition of devotion to Santa Muerte. Furthermore, everyone implicated in the murders is a member of the same family (one suspect is only 15).

    But the group has consistently been described as a “cult,” implying an organized religious movement. State police took this a step further by referring to Santa Muerte as a “Satanic sect.” (Devotees of Santa Muerte are not Satanists and many consider themselves to be Catholic.)

    Finally, an Associated Press article has compared these murders to those committed by Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a cartel leader who practiced a variety of esoteric traditions. In 1989 a number of bodies were discovered at Constanzo’s ranch in Matamoros, Mexico, some of whom had apparently been killed as sacrifices. The Matamoros murders were themselves connected to Charles Manson by conspiracy theorists attempting to prove the existence of a vast network of criminal Satanism.

    The effect of all these connections is to mold specific incidents into a monolithic danger that spans across decades, national borders, and religious traditions.

    It goes without saying these murders are unconscionable, and a tragedy. But attempting to find a grand pattern, or a reason, in a connection to so-called ritualistic violence brings authorities no closer to preventing such crimes—while greatly increasing the likelihood that innocent people will be persecuted.

    It is almost a certainty that at some point in the future the events that have unfolded in Nacozari will be presented as “proof” that Santa Muerte is an inherently violent tradition. As Saint Death’s popularity spreads and the Latino American population continues to grow, this is not a theory we can afford to entertain.

    If we can accept that not all Beatles fans are Charles Manson, we must also have faith that not all who pray to Santa Muerte are Silvia Meraz.


  11. Torture of African children for being witches is spreading

    by Michael Howie Rashid Razaq, Evening Standard June 25, 2012

    Child abuse in London linked to African witchcraft is “getting worse”, an expert warned as he revealed shocking details of a case involving the alleged torture of a 12-year-old girl.

    Dr Richard Hoskins, a criminologist who specialises in African religions and beliefs, said he was investigating four cases for Scotland Yard in which sorcery or exorcism is believed to be involved.

    The Roehampton University research fellow recently published The Boy in The River, a book about his most infamous case — that of “Adam”, an African boy whose dismembered torso was found in the Thames in 2001.

    In spite of greater awareness about such cases, Dr Hoskins said they were becoming more widespread.

    In one case, a 12-year-old girl from north London was found with 30 injuries including cuts to the body, and wounds from rods, knives and hot spoons. She was beaten and had chilli peppers rubbed into her eyes.

    The girl, whose family come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was placed in care.

    Dr Hoskins said: “It’s a serious problem and it is under-reported. I’ve got several cases which are London-based child abuse involving witchcraft. I think it’s getting worse.”

    He spoke out as it emerged that Islington council paid for him to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo to look into the case of a 14-year-old boy whose mother believed he was possessed.

    The woman wanted to send the boy to the country for an exorcism and Dr Hoskins said some council officials were “mindful to agree to the request”.

    He urged the council to turn down the request after learning that the “deliverance” would involve starving the child of food and water for three days.

    The Met set up Project Violet to investigate child abuse cases linked to witchcraft after Victoria Climbié, eight, was murdered in Haringey by her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning in 2000.

    A Met spokesman said it had investigated 81 cases where a child was allegedly abused over witchcraft . Of those, 57 resulted in a prosecution.

    Mr Hoskins gave evidence this year in the case of Kristy Bamu, a 15-year-old east London boy drowned in a bath during an exorcism. Eric Bikubi, 28, and Magalie Bamu, 29 — Kristy’s sister — were convicted of murder.


  12. Voodoo witch doctor kills four children in exorcism ceremony

    Herald Sun AFP August 04, 2012

    FOUR children from the same family have been found dead in Haiti after being treated by a witch doctor who claimed to be able to cure them of a mysterious illness, a local official said Friday.

    "Three girls and a boy, the eldest of whom was seven years old and the youngest only 15 months, suffered abuse from the healer who was treating them," said Wilfrid Brisson, an official from the southern town of Marbial.

    "They were then abandoned in their mother's bed."

    According to neighbours, the sorcerer - who was assisted by his brother - persuaded the victims' mother that the children were possessed by a demon and said he could rid their soul of the devil.

    The witch doctor and his brother beat the children repeatedly, in steps they said were necessary to expel the demon, and the youngsters died from the blows, said Mr Brisson.

    The alleged killers have apparently fled to the capital Port-au-Prince. An investigation by authorities in Marbial is under way and the children's mother is in custody.

    About half of Haiti's population is believed to practice the voodoo religion in some form, though many are thought to also follow other religious beliefs at the same time. Sorcery and spiritual magic have been incorporated into some of the beliefs.

    Voodoo evolved out of the beliefs that slaves from West Africa brought with them to Haiti. It is now deeply rooted in Haitian culture.

    Western evangelical Christian movements, however, have also made inroads in Haiti.


  13. Three-year-old Malaysian girl killed in suspected exorcism ritual

    AP - The Indepenent August 7, 2012

    A three-year-old girl was killed in a suspected exorcism ritual by family members who believed she was possessed by evil spirits, Malaysian police said today.

    Officers raided a house in northern Penang state after receiving a distress call from a family member. They found a group of eight people lying on top of the girl in a bedroom, said district police chief Azman Abdul Lah.

    The girl was face down under the human pile, which comprised her parents, grandmother, uncle, aunt, two cousins and their Indonesian maid, he said.

    The room was dark and chanting could be heard from under a blanket covering the group, Mr Azman said.

    The girl died of suffocation, and all eight involved have been detained, he added.

    Belief in the supernatural has long been entrenched among Malaysia's main Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic communities, though occult rituals have waned in recent decades.

    Deaths linked to such rituals are occasionally recorded. Two Malay cousins were sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2010 for killing the parents of one of them during a spiritual cleansing ritual that involved beating the couple with brooms and motorcycle helmets.


  14. Man used witchcraft to traffic children for prostitution

    by PAUL PEACHEY, The Independent September 18, 2012

    An alleged people trafficker cut the chest of a vulnerable 14-year-old girl with a razor during a series of "juju" witchcraft rituals aimed at terrifying young recruits into silence before selling them into prostitution across Europe, a court heard yesterday.

    Osezua Osolase recruited and raped impoverished young Nigerian orphans and forced them to undergo West African rituals in which hair, nails and blood were removed to "cast a spell" over them and ensure their obedience, Canterbury Crown Court was told.

    Mr Osolase, a Nigerian living in Northfleet, Kent, told one of three young victims – who overheard him trying to sell her off for €70,000 – that he had been bringing girls into Britain for 15 years, the court heard.

    The 42-year-old then used a series of fake identities, addresses and falsified passports for the trafficked girls and escorted them on budget airlines to cities in Europe to work in the vice trade, said Ms Sarah Ellis, prosecuting.

    The court heard that Mr Osolase, posing as a man named Victor, picked up one homeless 16-year-old girl sleeping rough in Lagos and took her to a "place of witchcraft" in the city to establish his control over her.

    The teenager – who had been promised an education in Britain – was given a mixture consisting of what appeared to be blood and cloth and told to bathe in it and wrap the cloth around her. As "Victor" watched, a man cut hair from her armpits, some of her finger and toenails and took blood from her hand, said Ms Ellis.

    She was told that the body parts taken in the ritual would be used to find and kill her if ever she tried to run away or failed to repay "Victor", the court heard.

    "Those rituals are very much about invisible power. They involved the use of objects in order to curse or cast a spell. They are intended to terrify," said Ms Ellis. "They [the body parts] are thought to embody the essence of the owner. When taken, they will allow control at whatever distance."

    The jury was shown pictures of the 14-year-old girl, who said that Mr Osolase cut her chest and shoulders with a razor and rubbed black powder into the wounds after she was brought to Britain. "It meant she was carrying the curse inside her," said Ms Ellis.

    The teenager was ordered to make an oath of loyalty to Mr Osolase, which if she broke would mean she would not have children, go mad and die, the court heard. The rituals were "an effort to ensure that they would do as they were told … and would never reveal the truth about what really happened to them for fear of death or serious harm," said Ms Ellis.

    Mr Osolase was said to have recruited some of the girls from his home country. The court heard that three girls were brought to Britain where he kept them under lock and key and sexually abused them, the court heard. One girl overheard Mr Osolase on the telephone apparently haggling with someone over payment.

    The court heard that Mr Osolase had a "double life" married to a German woman – which allowed him freedom to travel across Europe – while also having a Nigerian partner. He had sought to escort the three girls, aged 14, 16, and 17, to Spain and Italy to work as prostitutes, Ms Ellis said. He was arrested twice at Stansted airport before they managed to leave the country, the court heard. Mr Osolase, a former security guard, denies charges that include trafficking, rape, and sexual assault. The trial continues.


  15. UN Condemns Surge of 'Vicious' Witchcraft Attacks on Albinos in Tanzania

    by Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post March 6, 2013

    U.N. human rights officials condemned a recent surge of violence against Albinos in Tanzania in connection with witchcraft beliefs and practices.

    "I strongly condemn these vicious killings and attacks, which were committed in particularly horrifying circumstances, and which have involved dismembering people, including children, while they are still alive," said Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to Reuters.

    Albinos, who are people born with a congenital disorder caused by the absence of pigment in the skin, have traditionally suffered great hardships in Africa. They have been subject to grotesque crimes, such as having their limbs chopped off by practitioners of indigenous religions.

    Some witchcraft practitioners believe that albino body parts can be used for creating potions, charms and curses, and are funded by locals and foreigners who pay high money for favorable spells.

    "These crimes are abhorrent," Pillay added. As many as 72 people have been killed in Tanzania since 2000, but only five people have successfully been convicted. In January a string of new attacks were reported in Kanunge village in Tabora region, which resulted in the death of a 7-year-old albino boy.

    "His attackers slashed his forehead, right arm and left shoulder and chopped off his left arm just above the elbow," the U.N. High Commissioner commented, revealing that the boy's 95-year-old grandfather was also killed trying to protect him.

    And in February, a 39-year-old female albino was murdered by a gang of five armed men in Mkowe village in Rukwa region.

    "They hacked off her left arm while she was sleeping with two of her four children," Pillay revealed.

    In the village of Msia, also in Rukwa, a 10-year-old boy was attacked on his way home from school by two unidentified men who chopped of his arm above the elbow, though he survived.

    "The Tanzanian authorities have the primary responsibility to protect people with albinism, and to fight against impunity, which is a key component for prevention and deterrence of the crimes targeting this exceptionally vulnerable community," Pillay added.

    Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions in Tanzania, but practitioners of the occult are still active in certain villages and more rural areas.

    In February, a senior Florida priest was shot dead before a church service in Tanzania, though the attackers are believed to be Islamists.

    Another Catholic priest was wounded on his way home from church on Christmas Day, pointing to tensions between the religious communities in the African country.


  16. Father ties, locks up six-year-old daughter for witchcraft


    A 42-year-old father, Mr. Edet Etok-Akpan, is currently being quizzed at the headquarters of the Cross River State Police Command in Calabar for torturing his six-year-old daughter, Edidiong, as a result of a church prophetess’ pronouncement that the girl was a witch.

    Edidiong was beaten by her father and locked up in a room with her hands, mouth and face bound for four days before she was rescued by neighbours.

    It was learnt that Etok-Akpan started beating her on February 19 after an unidentified prophetess in their church told him that Edidiong was the witch responsible for the stagnancy in his life.

    Narrating her ordeal to PUNCH Metro on Monday, Edidiong said after the beatings which lasted for some days, her father on February 21 tied her hands with a cord and bound her mouth with a piece of cloth.

    She said, “He locked me in the inner room of our house and he never gave me food and never allowed me to go to school.”

    The girl, who said she is in basic three at Femos Nursery and Primary School located at 24 Etyin Abasi Street, said she was becoming weak after days without food or water.

    Luck, however, came her way on February 23, when another child, who lives with her parents in the same 42 Atakpa Street, came to their veranda to look for broom and discovered her.

    Giving details of how she was rescued, a lawyer with the Basic Rights Counsel, Mr. James Ibor, said, “The girl went to Edidiong’s veranda to look for a broom and heard the sound of the girl like that of someone battling with her last breath.

    “She looked through the louvers of the window and saw Edidiong bound on the floor and raised the alarm. Her parents and other neighbours rushed to the place and saw Edidiong bound inside her apartment.”

    Ibor said one of the neighbours called him and he in turn informed the police.

    He said, “When the policemen and I got there, we saw a crowd gathered outside. We were able to rescue the child by breaking the door.

    “The girl was very weak because she had been without food for days and so we had to give her water first, then after about ten minutes we gave her milk before solid food an hour later.”

    Ibor said the culprit and his wife had locked up the girl in the inner room of their two-room apartment and went to church, adding that the girl was presently living with her grandmother in another part of the town.

    The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. John Umoh, said Etok-Akpan, who is from Akwa Ibom State, had been arrested and would soon appear in court to answer charges of felony.

    He said, “To tie a small girl’s hand and mouth and lock her in a room for some days without food is a grievous offence, he shall soon appear in court.”

    Umoh, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, warned parents to always treat their children with care, adding criminalities are increasing daily because parents had abandoned their responsibilities to their wards.

    He also said the police would visit the church where the father got the prophecy.


  17. Cameroon: more details emerge on Holy Salam cult

    By YUH TIMCHIA in Yaoundé | Africa Review March 14 2013

    The governor of Cameroon’s Northwest Region has ordered houses of worship illegally operating in his area of jurisdiction to immediately close their doors.

    Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique spoke Wednesday, a day after police rescued 30 children who a religious sect had been holding in total seclusion since 2001 and in a crammed compound in the region’s capital Bamenda.

    The Salam Church of Christ is among thousands of mostly charismatic churches that operate freely in Cameroon even though only 46 are legally registered.

    The governor was chairing a crisis meeting on the shocking discovery that drew condemnation from across the country.

    The official had called the meeting to determine the fate of the children and their mothers freed from the imposed seclusion.

    Social workers say the children and the women, three of who are pregnant and are now admitted in Bamenda’s regional hospital, are reported to be in dire need of proper medical care.

    Authorities will also determine what will become of the body of a deceased male sect member, 38-year-old Ngong Harrison Ndeh, whose death led to the discovery of the sect's 'Holy Family' holding cell.

    Police suspect some of the children could have been victims of human trafficking.

    Backyard cemetery

    People who had reported their children missing have been trouping into the city to identify the children who the head of the Salam Church of Christ, self-proclaimed Evangelist Richard Taah, who is now being questioned by police, claims he fathered.

    The parenthood of the children is still to be ascertained as accounts from the sect’s members have been inconsistent, according to reports.

    Paternity tests are being carried out, authorities have said.

    Taah and about 7 other male members of the cult, who shared about eight 'wives' among themselves and reportedly fathered the undeclared children aged between 2 weeks and 9 years, are in police custody.

    The children did not attend regular school, never left the compound and some of the women were co-wives with some of their daughters.

    The discovery that shocked the central African nation and brought the country’s human trafficking concerns to light was made on Tuesday.

    In the past children’s rights activists have cautioned that traffickers are resorting to snatching their victims as increased public awareness cuts the number of children rural parents hand over to middlemen who often tout fake pledges of offering the children better lives and education in the cities.

    Neighbours of the sect’s compound that had always been under tight security tipped off police after they discovered that cult members tried to bury the deceased male member in their backyard without the knowledge of his family and outsiders.

    The member had renounced his kith and kin some 11 years ago.

    The small apartment house in Bamenda’s Longla neighbourhood also included a bespoke but shoddy health centre and home school.

    A cemetery with about five graves was also discovered in the backyard where it is suspected children and another adult sect member who died probably due to improper health care had been interred secretly.

    Two vehicles belonging to the sect were burnt down and their fenced compound ransacked by irate residents of Bamenda on Tuesday before the police intervened.

    The group shuns conventional practices like going to hospital; The men, said to have been riding luxurious cars with tinted windscreens that were hardly ever wound down, do all the shopping while the women and children stayed locked away from the public.

    Cameroon, where about 15 per cent of children between ages 10 and 14 years work involuntarily and in dire conditions according to a 2008 US Department of Labour report, is believed to be a source, transit point, and destination for trafficked children and women from the country and beyond.


  18. DR Congo's Witchcraft Epidemic: 50,000 Children Accused of Sorcery

    Kevani Kanda's BBC documentary Branded a Witch uncovers horrific stories of child abuse in the name of fighting witchcraft

    By HANNAH OSBORNE | International Business Times May 20, 2013

    There are around 50,000 children being held in churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused of witchcraft, a BBC film team has discovered.

    Branded a Witch shows Kevani Kanda exploring the secretive world of faith-based child abuse, where children are physically assaulted because a church leader believes they possess "kindoki" or magic powers.

    The documentary explores the increase in the number of children abused and murdered by relatives in the name of driving out demons.

    Kanda, who was born in the DRC, looks to establish how ancient traditions have resulted in children being singled out for abuse.

    Her investigation follows the deaths of Victoria Climbié and Kristy Bamu. Eight-year-old Victoria was tortured and killed in London in 2000 partly because her guardians believed she was possessed.

    Her mother's boyfriend Carl Manning called Victoria "Satan" in his diary, writing that no matter how hard he hit her, she did not cry.

    In 2010, Kristy, 15, was killed by his sister Magaline Bamu and her partner Eric Bikubi at their flat in Newham, east London. He was tortured before being drowned in the bath in an attempt to exorcise him of the devil.

    Visiting churches in the DRC, Kanda found children accused of witchcraft because they were disabled, wet the bed or suffered nightmares. She found that families put toddlers believed to be possessed through painful rituals to rid them of their kindoki.

    Deliverance rituals include torture, starvation, isolation and beatings.

    Kanda visits a church in Kinshasa and, at first, says there is a "party-like atmosphere".

    "But then it all changes. I'm shocked to witness the pastors going down a line of children picking out those they suspect of having kindoki, or witchcraft," she said.

    Asking how and why the pastors select the children, she is told: "These two children have bad works inside them. The holy spirit has revealed to him that these kids have been possessed by witchcraft.

    "Like this one [pointing to a young girl], she ate her mother. The spirit is like the wind. It's not something you can see."

    One child accused of witchcraft tells Kanda: "I had it. I had witchcraft. I came here and they helped me and I was healed. I was wetting the bed but now I don't do it any more."

    Branded a Witch is on BBC3 at 9pm tonight (Monday).


  19. Ritual Killing and Pseudoscience in Nigeria

    Leo Igwe, Skeptical Inquirer Volume 14.2, June 2004

    The murder in London of a Nigerian boy, simply named Adam by the British Police, might have brought to international focus and attention one of the most dreadful and horrifying practices in Nigeria - ritual killing.

    In September 2001, the mutilated body of “Boy Adam” was found by the British Police floating in the River Thames, near Tower Bridge in London. A top police source suspected that Adam might have been a victim of a style of ritual killing practiced in west and southern Africa. And forensic examination revealed that Adam lived in southwestern Nigeria.

    So, early this year, British detectives arrived in Nigeria in search of Adam’s killers. Both the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and Nigerian soccer player Nwankwo Kanu, made passionate appeals for clues and information leading to the arrest of Adam’s killers.

    In July, Police arrested a 37-year-old Nigerian, Sam Onogigovie (in Dublin), and twenty-one other Nigerians in Britain in connection with the murder of Adam. Generally, ritual killing is a common practice in Nigeria. Every year, hundreds of Nigerians lose their lives to ritual murderers, also known as headhunters.

    These head hunters go in search of human parts-head, breast, tongue, sexual organs-at the behest of witchdoctors, juju priests, and traditional medicine men who require them for some sacrifices or for the preparation of assorted magical potions.

    Recently, there have been several reported cases of individuals who were kidnapped, killed, or had their bodies mutilated by ritualists in Nigeria. The most notorious of them is the one associated with one Chief Vincent Duru, popularly known as Otokoto.

    It happened this way: In 1996, the police in the southern Nigerian city of Owerri arrested a man, Innocent Ekeanyanwu, with the head of a young boy, Ikechukwu Okonkwo. In the course of the investigation, the police discovered the buried torso of Ikechukwu on the premises of Otokoto Hotel, owned by Chief Duru, and uncovered a syndicate that specialized in ritual killing and the sale and procurement of human parts. The horrifying discoveries sparked off violent protests in the city of Owerri which led to the burning and looting of properties belonging to suspected killers. Otokoto and his ritualist syndicate were arrested and put on trial, and in February 2003, they were sentenced to death by hanging.

    Apart from the Otokoto incident, there have been other instances of ritual murder and mutilation in other parts of the country. For instance, in Calabar, two men plucked out the eyes of a young lady, Adlyne Eze, for money-making ritual. And in Ifo, Ogun state, a businessman inflicted the same harm on his younger sister. In Ibadan, the police in December arrested a taxi driver, Abbas, who used his fourteen-month-old baby for rituals. Abbas killed his child in order to secure a human head, which was one of the materials listed for him by a local witchdoctor for a money-making ritual.

    And in another act of ritual horror in Onitsha, Anambra State, two young men, Tobechukwu Okorie and Peter Obasi, seized a boy, Monday Emenike, and cut off his sexual organ with the intention of delivering it to a man, who allegedly offered to pay 1.5 million naira ($11,000) for it. In Kaduna, Danladi Damina was arrested after he exhumed the corpse of a 9-year-old boy, plucked out his eyes and cut off his lips, intending to use them for charms. Recently a woman was caught in a bush in Warri, Delta State, decapitating a four-year-old boy for ritual purposes. And while writing this piece, I read in The Guardian (Nigeria) a report of the murder of an 18-year-old girl, identified as Chioma, by suspected ritualists in Mbaise, Imo State.

    The question is: why do Nigerians still engage in such bloody, brutal, and barbaric acts and atrocities even in the twenty-first century? For me, there are three reasons:


  20. --Religion: Nigeria is a deeply religious society. Most Nigerians believe in the existence of supernatural beings and that these transcendental entities can be influenced through ritual acts and sacrifices. Rituals constitute part of the people’s traditional religious practice and observance. Nigerians engage in ritual acts to appease the gods, seek supernatural favours, or to ward off misfortune. Many do so out of fear of unpleasant spiritual consequences if they default. So religion, theism, supernaturalism, and occultism are at the root of ritual killing in Nigeria.

    --Superstition: Nigeria is a society where most beliefs are still informed by unreason, dogmas, myth making, and magical thinking. In Nigeria, belief in ghosts, juju, charms, and witchcraft is prevalent and widespread. Nigerians believe that magical potions prepared with human heads, breasts, tongues, eyes, and sexual organs can enhance one’s political and financial fortunes; that juju, charms and amulets can protect individuals against business failures, sickness and diseases, accidents, and spiritual attacks. In fact, ritual-making is perceived as an act of spiritual fortification.

    --Poverty: Most often, Nigerians engage ritual killing for money-making purposes. Among Nigerians, there is a popular belief in a special kind of ritual, performed with human blood or body parts that can bring money or wealth, even though such a belief lacks any basis in reason, science or common sense.
    For example, there has never been a single proven instance of any Nigerian who became rich through a moneymaking ritual.

    And still the belief in “ritual wealth” or “blood money” remains strong among the people and features prominently in the nation’s media and film industry. Most times, what we hear are stories and speculations founded on ignorance and hearsay. For instance, Nigerians who enrich themselves through dubious and questionable means, like the scammers who swindle foreigners, are said to have indulged in money-making rituals using the blood or body parts of their parents, wives, children, or other close relations.

    So driven by ignorance, poverty, desperation, gullibility, and irrationalism, Nigerians murder fellow Nigerians for rituals. But ritual killing is not a practice limited to Nigeria. Ritual sacrifices also occur in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, like in Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Uganda, etc. In fact in some parts of Uganda, a child is sacrificed before a major building is erected. There is therefore an urgent need for an international campaign to end this murderous practice and other horrifying traditions and superstitions in Africa. Personally, I am recommending that the United Nations’ Inter-Africa Committee includes ritual killing in its programs and campaigns as a harmful traditional practice.

    Also, skeptics groups should strive to expose the ignorance, superstition, and unreason that underlie the belief in and practice of ritual killing by organizing public education, awareness, and enlightenment campaigns on science education, critical thinking, and rational inquiry.

    The case of Adam underscores the need to internationally confront and combat religious obscurantism, dogmatism, and occultism in Africa and the world at large.

    In 2001, there were so many cases of ritual killing in the Lagos metropolis that one of the nation’s major newspapers, The Punch, published a scary headline: “Ritualists Lay Siege to Lagos.”

    Personally, I think that caption would have better read: “Pseudoscience Lays Siege to Nigeria.” Because that was the case. And that is still the case.

    Leo Igwe is the founder of the Nigerian Humanist Movement and currently a research fellow at Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies, University of Bayreuth, Germany.


  21. SHOCKING: “I buy live human beings for N30,000 and sell the parts for up to N100,000″ – Arrested Islamic teacher (PICTURED)

    Naija.com Nigeria June 13, 2013

    A self-proclaimed Islamic cleric and native doctor has been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for selling human parts.

    60-year-old Gazali Akewadola, was said to have killed innocent people and used their parts to perform rituals.

    Police sources claim they arrested Akewadola after five suspects who were initially detained had revealed his location in their confessional statements.

    Akewadola from Owode Yewa, Ogun State has since made confessions of his own following his arrest by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad defending his act as a means to cater for his eight children. He also reportedly disclosed that he began making money buying heads at the cost of N3,000 but the price went up to N8,000 so he decided to start buying human beings and then dismembering the corpses which he would use for various purposes.

    He also confessed to eating some of the parts while the other parts were used in making charms for his customers with a full live human being cost between N30, 000 and N40, 000.

    “I am an Islamic teacher and a cleric and I own an Islamic school in Owode, Yewa. I am also married with eight lovely children.

    “I am also a native doctor. I cure people of ailments and help those who want to become rich quick. I use human parts to prepare charms and concoctions for them.”

    According to reports, he was asked if he could sell the parts of his children, but he replied: “God forbid! I do ritual because the money I make from sales is used for the well-being of my children. Also, if I had killed my children and sold them, it could have aroused suspicion and my relations might expose me but if the people I use for the ritual are brought from far away, it is safer for me and my business.”

    continued in next comment...

  22. “It is cheaper to buy a live human. You get a lot of parts from it and it is more powerful because the efficacy of the charm or concoction you prepared with fresh parts cannot be compared with the ones you prepared with parts you got from the grave.”

    “For instance, a live human being will give you blood. There is charm you can prepare with it. The same body will give you hairs from private parts, head and moustache. You can also cut out private parts. Each part of human being is useful. Even the meat and intestine, liver, heart, eyes, lips, tongues can be used for pepper soup.

    “If you buy full human being for N30, 000 or N40, 000 and dismember it, you can end up getting N100, 000 or more because you get more than ten parts and can yield good money.”

    When asked why he ate human parts, he said, “It tastes so good and better than animal meat especially when taken with hot drink, or wine or beer but the most essence of eating it is to assure those who patronise us see that it is eatable and sweet, and of spiritual and physical benefits. It can cure serious illness and can make one get rich quick.”

    The suspect, who was not remorseful for his crime, said his only regret was that he had not become as rich as he wanted to be. “My regret is that I did not become rich even after selling human parts. I even found it difficult to feed my family sometimes,” he said.

    [READ: Suspected ritualists: Doctor, 3 others arrested for mutilating the corpse of a 13-month-old baby] http://www.ynaija.com/suspected-ritualists-doctor-3-others-arrested-for-mutilating-the-corpse-of-a-13-month-old-baby/

    The Punch reports:

    The police said that Akewadola was a member of the gang that was recently arrested for exhuming corpses and selling their parts.

    PUNCH Metro had reported on May 22, 2013 that the police arrested five members of a syndicate- Jamiu Adeleke, Ajibade Rafiu, Fatai Akiwowo, Kazeem Sanni and Agboola Kolawole – for selling human parts in Owode, Ogun State.

    Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Damasus Ozoani, could not be reached because his telephone lines were switched off.


  23. Father Beheads Six Year Old Son Over Witchcraft ...Pictures Very Graphic: Viewer’s Discretion Strongly Advised

    By Asu Nyong, ModernGhana.com July 3, 2013

    Akwa Ibom State: A 43 Year old man from Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria, Mr. Felix Lawson has allegedly beheaded his six years old step-son, Master Effiong Lawson (fondly called Ifanyi). Investigation revealed that Mr. Lawson who is a junior staff worker in the riverine Ibeno Local Government Council returned home over the weekend and was enjoying his evening meal when his step-son sneaked into the backyard and whispered to his younger sister to bring him food remnant as he was said to very be hungry, having not eaten for the past three days.

    Unknown to him, his father was at home and heard his whispering and recognized his voice. Mr. Lawson went for his machetes and flung himself out to the backyard; Ifanyi and his brother who was his escort took to their heels but he was not all that lucky as his father ran fast that when he got closer to him, he slammed the machetes on his head, the young lad fell down, and he cut off his head instantly with the machetes.

    Bassey Eshiet, a youth activist in Onna reechoed Unyime, the deceased brother, Master Aniefiok Lawson thus:

    'Because we were hungry, Infanyi asked me to escort him to the house so that we can beg our younger sister for food to eat. We didn't know that daddy was back from Ibeno. So Ifanyi went closer to the backyard door and called Unyime (name changed) to bring the leftover food for us. It was already dark so when daddy opened the door and jumped out, we ran but my brother could not run faster as he crying 'daddy forgive me' so daddy hit his head with his big cutlass, he fell down and was crying as he continued to hit him with the cutlass.

    'I did not hear his voice again. I ran and hid myself in the bush. So, late in the night when the place was calmed I went and joined my two friends in the uncompleted building of the Primary School, where we usually sleep at night. I asked them if they saw Ifanyi, they said 'No', they never saw him again. So in the morning, we saw a lot of blood-spilled over where he was caught by daddy.

    'That morning, we found his body without a head in the pool of stagnant water behind one of the school blocks and the head was in the nearby school farm

    continued below

  24. The village head of Ikot Ndua Iman in Onna, Chief Akpan Eno was intimated of the sinister development and he immediately called the Onna Divisional Police who came, picked the decapitated body of Ifanyi and arrested Mr. Felix Lawson. But the following the day, he was released and he's now a free man walking the streets of Onna.

    This reporter went to the Onna Divisional Police Headquarters to inquire why Mr. Lawson was not charged for murder; the D.P.O., was said to have traveled to Uyo for security briefing. But the Investigation Police Officer (IPO) of the case who did not want his name mentioned, said no one was willing to come forward to testify about the child's murder.

    But Mr. Bassey Eshiet said the two kids and their mother had made a corroborative statement to the police indicating that Mr. Lawson killed his step-son since be believed he was a wizard who has made his family become wretched and poverty-stricken. A woman, who lives close to the primary school, said she heard the ululation of Ifanyi and his step-father's voice that very night but, thought it was the usual beating of the witch children whenever they were caught around the father's compound.

    The other two kids were said to have been taken to Eket, in a place called CRARN Children Centre for rehabilitation. But when we arrived there, the Administrative Officer of the Child's Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) Centre, Mr. Nsidibe Orok said, though the police have been rescuing and bringing in witch branded children to the centre, they were not aware of the whereabouts of the deceased two brothers who disappeared as soon as they discovered that their brother had been murdered by their step-father. He however, added that they were going to launch investigation in different locations where abandoned children normally cluster in the night.


  25. Ghana: Witchcraft Accusations in Schools

    by Leo Igwe, Swift Blog - randi.org [date unknown]

    Witchcraft suspicion is ubiquitous in Ghana, a deeply pervasive social reality simmering under the social surface. An unexpected death, sudden disease or misfortune trigger suspicions. Suspicion murmurs into accusation. Accusations can justify exile or death at the hands of a mob.

    Suspicion of witchcraft can touch men as well as women, the very old and even children can be branded witches. Witchcraft accusation and resulting execution occurs in rural and urban areas, on the streets, in the market places, on farms and in offices. Schools and colleges are not immune, teachers and students accuse and are accused.

    No one is above suspicion of practicing malevolent magic. But witchcraft accusation has dreadful consequences. It is a stigma that socially discredits the accused. A witch is a criminal, a destroyer of life and property, a bloodthirsty murderer who kills others through mysterious spiritual means. A witch is seen as conniving and dangerous.

    Witchcraft "Spoils your name." Witchcraft shames and disgraces the accused and even the family of the accused. Accusation stains the reputation of all it touches. The accused are forced to flee their homes, forced into witch camps or killed. The whisper of accusation strikes fear of ruin and death.

    In 2012, a 17 year old girl was forced to leave school and then was banished to a witch camp in Gambaga following an accusation The girl was intelligent excelling in her tests and examinations, but she was accused of "Stealing other students’ brains" with witchcraft and spells. It took the intervention of the Ghanaian Deputy Minister for Women and Children Affairs for the girl to be released from the witch camp and returned to her family.

    The future of another teenage girl, Roda, in Nalerigu, in the Northern Region of Ghana is hanging in the balance at this writing. She is accused of bewitching the school prefect and preventing him from taking this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). She is in junior high school and was to graduate in the coming year.

    Last December the school prefect, a senior, punished Roda and out of anger she told the boy that he would not write this year’s BECE. Seven months later, a few weeks before the examination, the school prefect took ill. He could not see properly and could not sit for the BECE. The school prefect was rushed to a nearby hospital, the Baptist Medical Centre, where he received some treatment.

    Roda was branded a witch. She was accused of being responsible for the illness, of making the boy blind through witchcraft. The matter was reported to the headmaster of the school who urged Roda to ‘forgive’ the school prefect and to undo whatever witchcraft she used on him. But Roda was crying and repeatedly said that she did not know anything about the sickness; that she never did anything to the prefect apart from the threat she issued. But nobody believed her.

    The matter was taken to the chief of Nalerigu where the school was located but the chief referred the matter to the chief of Gambaga, known as the Gambarana. The Gambarana is not only the traditional political head of Gambaga but also the spiritual head. He performs rituals to confirm or cleanse accused persons of witchcraft. He is the custodian of the Gambaga ‘witch’ camp.

    According to Roda, after listening to their stories the Gambarana decided, Roda may be a witch and she may have used witchcraft. But instead of performing a ritual to confirm if Roda was actually a witch. He had her returned to the chief of Nalerigu to resolve the matter.

    continued below

  26. The community was now sure that Roda was a witch, and that she made the school prefect blind. Many people suspected that she got the ‘witchcraft’ she used on the school prefect from her father. But her father denied knowing anything about the sickness or giving any ‘juju’ to his daughter.

    I visited the prefect at the hospital and noticed that he was not blind as had been rumored but was not seeing properly either. He could see and identify human beings but could not properly see or read words and sentences typed or written on a book or paper. According medical officials at the hospital, the school prefect had a heart problem; the boy's heart was failing. And due to the heart condition, the body organs including the eyes were not functioning properly. They said there was nothing wrong with the eyes. If the heart condition were rectified, the vision would be restored.

    This medical center has limited facilities to diagnose and treat heart related problems so there are plans to refer him to hospitals with better equipment and specialists in Kumasi or Accra for a second opinion. The family of the boy is poor and needs financial assistance to carry out further medical examination.

    Meanwhile Roda has dropped out of school. She is currently staying with her parents in the village. They are worried that she might be harmed due to the witchcraft accusation. It took a lot of negotiation for the parents and the elders in the community to allow me to see and interview her. I was questioned about my mission and cleared by chiefs in two different communities before I was able to meet with her. Finally I was allowed to visit Roda in her village.

    Roda said she stopped attending school because she could no longer move and interact freely in the community. In the school and on the streets, people jeered at her calling her a witch. And in the school, students made caricatures of her. Some were afraid of coming close to her. Others attributed any slight scratch or bruise on their body to her ‘witch chopping’ scheme. She said she felt miserable and unsafe because the family and friends of the school prefect were angry with her. They believed she made him ‘blind’ and prevented him from taking the BECE. She and her parents have moved to another village where she is currently staying. But the witchcraft allegation has followed her.

    Roda’s parents said following the accusation, they decided to withdraw her from the school so that she could marry, a plan I vehemently opposed. But they worried that it would be difficult to find her another school within the area because of the stigma of witchcraft accusation. Only after persistent persuasion did the parents pledge to send her to the regional capital, Tamale, so that she could continue her education there. I had pressured them into making this promise. In the future I will have to monitor the situation to see if they have fulfilled this pledge.

    If efforts are not made to support her, the girl will lose her education to an accusation of witchcraft. She is one of many.

    Leo Igwe is a skeptical activist in Nigeria and a former representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He is partnering with the JREF to respond in a more organized and grassroots way to the growing superstitious beliefs about witchcraft throughout the continent of Africa.


  27. 7 Countries That Still Kill Witches

    by Piper Hoffman, http://www.care2.com/ October 26, 2013

    You know how the long-ago witch hunts were stupid and hateful? What a relief those days are over.

    Except they’re not. In many countries, people are still killed on suspicion of witchcraft. United Nations experts cautioned in 2009 that murders of women and children accused of sorcery were on the rise. Following are just a few of many examples from around the world.

    1. Saudi Arabia

    Saudi Arabia’s religious police department has an official Anti-Witchcraft Unit that it dispatches to catch sorcerers and break their spells. In 2007, the Saudis executed an accused sorcerer. A woman awaiting the death penalty for alleged witchcraft died in prison.

    Like the New England witch hunters of yore, those in Saudi Arabia use magic as a convenient excuse to silence inconvenient people. Accusations of sorcery have been leveled against foreign women working as domestics for Saudi families who charge their employers with sexual assault, according to Saudi Arabia expert Christoph Wilcke.

    2. Tanzania

    This east African country killed approximately 600 elderly women on charges of witchcraft just two years ago. The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life found a strong and pervasive belief in magic among Tanzanians. It sometimes leads to reverence rather than murder. One woman who claims to be a witch charges between $20 and $120 for services including medical cures and exorcisms — in a country where the average income is under two dollars a day.

    3. Gambia

    Gambia’s dictator Yahya Jammeh rounds up, tortures and kills his citizens under the pretext of hunting for witches. Amnesty International estimates that at least six people died after Jammeh’s minions forced them to drink a mixture of unknown substances. Dozens more hallucinated and suffered severe and lingering pain. Those who survived suffered shame from the accusation in a country where people believe in and condemn witches.

    4. Nepal

    Last year a mob burned an accused witch alive after a shaman said she killed a boy. Their faith in the shaman suggests that Nepalis believe that sorcery can be used for good, but the punishment for black magic is death. This year another mob beat a 45-year-old woman to death based on accusations that she cast a spell on a neighbor’s daughter. The Nepali government is not on board with killing witches: police arrested three women suspected of participating in the murder. In the past it sentenced men to 20 years in prison for killing a woman suspected of practicing black magic.

    5. India

    Last June, a primarily female crowd killed two women believed to have murdered several children through witchcraft. As in Nepal, police arrested people suspected of participating in the mob. Some Indian states have adopted laws banning violence against people suspected of witchcraft.

    6. Papua New Guinea

    A crowd tortured and murdered a young mother accused of killing a boy through sorcery. They burned her alive before a large audience, some of whom broke off to chase police away before they could intervene. The prime minister lamented that violence against women is increasing because of the popular “belief that sorcery kills,” despite a law that specifically prohibits burning suspected witches.

    7. Uganda

    After burning a man’s house down and driving him from his village, locals tied him up and beheaded him for alleged witchcraft. While Ugandans kill some suspected witches, they pay others to help them with things like ensuring job security.

    This is a small sampling of countries where natives believe in witchcraft and kill people for it. While the governments of some nations, including Saudi Arabia and Gambia, embrace this belief and use it to their own ends, others are working to end it. Either way, accusations of black magic empower people to eliminate individuals they dislike and to terrify others into conformity.

    It all makes Halloween witch costumes a little less funny.


  28. This report is a follow up to the report posted above. See: Perry Bulwer 24 November 2011 10:23 Ritual to ‘exorcise girl’s demons’


    Group in plea agreement over exorcism death

    Legalbrief Today, South Africa November 4, 2013

    A Humansdorp pastor and his 'deliverance team' escaped jail yesterday after reaching a plea deal with the state following the death of a seven-year-old who died during an exorcism, notes a Weekend Post report.

    African Revival Ministries Church pastor Lonwabo Tanda (31) and church members Mhlabelisi Nodaka (23), Unathi Norushu (23), Nteboheleng Thukani (23) and Busisiwe Thukani (26), all of KwaNomzamo in Humansdorp, each received 24 months correctional supervision and community service as a result of their plea agreement. They were arrested in 2011 for the murder of Mihlali Mazantsi, who suffered from epilepsy. The little girl, from Keiskammahoek, died during an exorcism session. The group was also charged with the neglect, abuse and psychological and emotional trauma of Mihlali. The five accused pleaded not guilty to murder at the Port Elizabeth High Court.

    Full Weekend Post report (subscription needed)


  29. Nigeria Human Rights Groups Waged War Against Renewed Witch-hunting

    By Ghana News -SpyGhana.com November 12, 2013

    A group of Nigerian and International Human Rights groups have called for support from people across the world to help put a stop to renewed witch-hunting in Cross River State, Nigeria. The call has come in response to the launch of a new crusade by renowned pastor – Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio – entitled “Witches on the Run”.

    Ukpabio has received severe criticism in recent years for promoting the belief that children can be witches with evidence linking her church to horrific cases of child abuse in this region. In 2009 and 2010 she unsuccessfully sued child rights groups working to protect such children and sent her supporters to beat up human rights activist– Leo Igwe – when he organised a conference to raise awareness of these abuses.

    Aside from preaching about the existence of child witches in her churches, Ukpabio has also produced a number of books and nollywood films on this issue. In one of her books, ‘Unveiling The Mysteries of Witchcraft’, she states that: “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan”.

    According to Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director of the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN):

    “What Ukpabio fails to mention in her teachings is that such health symptoms are common in Southern Nigeria, which has high rates of malaria and other health challenges. Her latest crusade on this issue highlights her desire to continue to exploit the weak and vulnerable. We call upon people around the world to contact the Cross River State Government and urge them to take action to stop this latest witch-hunt.”

    Speaking from Cross River State, Nigeria, Human Rights Lawyer – Barrister James Ibor – from the Basic Rights Counsel further appealed for support to stop the flood of victims of this abuse that his organisation has to deal with. Cases documented by Basic Rights Counsel include ones where children have had a hot iron placed on them, oil poured over them or have been forced to drink dangerous concoctions in order to drive the “witchcraft” out. Some cases have led to the death of innocent children. Ibor said: “Ultimately, her acts are illegal under section 216 of the Nigerian Criminal code. Yet so far there have been no interventions by the State or Police. We therefore need all the support we can gather to put a stop to this campaign of terror”.

    The use of social media such as facebook and twitter is growing in Nigeria and the Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, can be contacted directly at @LiyelImoke or https://www.facebook.com/LiyelImoke. Cross River State paints itself as the hub of tourism in Nigeria and the State Government can be contacted at @crossriverstate.

    Supporters are being urged to contact them directly and demand that this witch-hunt be stopped. The groups suggest the following tweets: “Please take action to #stopthewitchhunt by Helen Ukpabio. Cross River State’s good name is being tarnished and children abused.” Or “Enough is enough. Child witch hunting in Cross River must be stopped.

    Please hold Helen Ukpabio to account. #stopthewitchhunt”.


  30. The following article is a follow up to the one posted above at: Perry Bulwer, 7 August 2012 09:49 Three-year-old Malaysian girl killed in suspected exorcism ritual


    Family jailed over child's exorcism death

    AFP New Vision, Uganada November 30, 2013

    KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian high court on Friday jailed three family members who suffocated their two-year-old to death by piling on top of her in a suspected exorcism ritual.

    Chua Wan Zuen, aged two, died after being pinned down under a blanket in August last year with eight people, including her parents, crushing her for several hours in an attempt to drive away evil spirits.

    A high court in northern Penang state ordered the parents -- an engineer and a traditional herbalist -- and an uncle to be jailed for one year, quashing an earlier fine of 10,000 ringgit ($3,000) each, meted out by a lower court in August, their lawyer Ang Chun Pun said.

    It also overturned the conviction of the girl's aunt, ordering her to be admitted to a mental health hospital as she was diagnosed to have been suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the girl's death.

    Ang said the aunt, 41, persuaded the rest of the ethnic Chinese family to try the "prayer session".

    "They were staunch Buddhists. They believed that the child was possessed. They intended to help the child," Ang said. "But the prayer session in an enclosed space went far too long. The cause of death was suffocation."

    Government lawyers withdrew their appeal to increase the punishment for the girl's grandmother, who was also fined 10,000 ringgit, because she was sick.

    They also withdrew their appeal of the ruling on two cousins, a 22-year-old who earlier was ordered to pay a 5,000 ringgit fine and a 17-year-old who was released on probation, Ang said.

    The seven originally pleaded not guilty to the charge of negligently causing death, but in the course of the trial admitted to committing the offence at their home in the northern town of Bukit Mertajam.

    The maximum jail term is two years.

    An Indonesian maid, who police said had joined the seven others in the ritual, was not charged and testified against the family.

    Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, but has large non-Muslim ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

    Seeking the advice of faith healers is common in Malaysia, although frowned upon in Islam. Violent rituals are rare.

    In 2008, a Malaysian Muslim couple were beaten to death by family members in a bizarre ritual to cure them of a smoking habit and illnesses.


  31. Man Raped Three Teenage Girls During Voodoo Exorcism Sessions Is Jailed

    Malaysian Digest December 1, 2013

    The uncle and mother of three teenage girls have been sentenced to 14 years in jail for raping and assaulting them in voodoo exorcism sessions.

    The man, a 28-year-old from Togo, claimed to have been 'chasing out an evil spirit' when he assaulted his niece and her two older sisters between 2010 and 2011.

    The victims' mother, 41, was found guilty of complicity as she had even supplied the condoms used in the crime.

    'She more or less delivered her daughter to the rapist,' the prosecutor told a court in Bobigny, an eastern suburb of Paris.

    During the sessions, the man would wash the girls' genital areas, and cut their hands and legs before applying a purportedly magical black powder to the wounds.

    His sister-in-law was found to have given her consent.

    The man was arrested in February 2011 after his last rape.

    He claims that he is unaware of the rapes inflicted on his niece.

    The victim's lawyer, Daniel Merchat, said: 'This denial is the second rape. It is a rape of the soul.'

    The prosecutor also said: 'The voodoo belief that was cited is just window dressing,' adding that the man 'does not suffer from any mental illness... he is completely responsible for his acts.'

    The uncle, whose identity is not known, was sentenced to 14 years; the mother was handed a seven-year jail term.

    It is the latest in a number of voodoo cases which have emerged in France, which has a large African community, in the past few years.

    Recently four men were sentenced for holding a young woman captive and torturing her as they believed she was possessed.

    Earlier this year Spanish police broken up a ring that smuggled in women from Nigeria and forced them into street prostitution by burning them with irons and using voodoo rituals.

    The gang tortured the women and scared them with curses to force them on to the streets.

    Six people, including one woman believed to be a ringleader- were arrested after one of the women alerted authorities.

    Last year, a Nigerian people smuggler who used witchcraft rituals to force children to work as sex slaves was jailed for 20 years in Britain.

    Osezua Osolase, 42, tricked poverty-stricken Nigerian orphans into travelling to the UK with the promise of a better life.

    But the young victims were raped, sexually abused and subjected to voodoo-style rituals by a child trafficking ring.

    Osolase, the linchpin of a multi-million pound global sex trafficking ring, used 'juju' magic to control his victims.

    He told the teenage girls they would die or never bear children if they tried to escape or revealed what had happened to them.



  32. Call to ban witch hunter Helen Ukpabio who poses risk to children

    by Jonathan Brown, The Independent April 14, 2014

    The Home Secretary Theresa May is being urged to step in to prevent a Nigerian “witch hunter” returning to the UK after she flew in to preach to congregations in London.

    “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio, founder of the controversial Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries, is believed to still be in the capital after addressing three gatherings last week.

    The born-again Christian Pentecostal preacher claims to have been betrothed to Satan as a teenager before being rescued from a cult at the age of 17. She now specialises in liberating captives in “deliverance sessions” that critics claim are little more than crude exorcisms.

    Among her advice to parents is the suggestion: “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.”

    Campaigners say such beliefs, prevalent in some parts of the developing world, can put children’s safety at risk. They have written to Ms May to urge that the pastor be banned from the UK after the current tour.

    In the letter, the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) cite the cases of Victoria Climbié and Kristy Bamu as examples where witchcraft beliefs played a role in the horrific torture and murder of children.

    “Whilst the Government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is considered as harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures,” the letter said. Ms Ukpabio cancelled her first service in south-east London last week after the location was leaked. She is understood to have made three other appearances, including one at a private home.

    Around a dozen people attended each event which offered help to those “under attack” from witchcraft, ancestral or “mermaid” spirits.

    Bob Churchill, of the IHEU, said: “It is important that the UK authorities send a message to the world that branding children, or anyone, as a witch is beyond the pale.”

    Ms Ukpabio founded the church in 1992 in Calabar, Nigeria. It now claims to have 150 branches worldwide.

    Gary Foxcroft, of the WHRIN, who has worked extensively in documenting examples of witchcraft abuse, said Ms Ukpabio was one of a number of preachers who regularly travelled to the UK. “The fundamental problem is that churches need to be regulated. Anyone can set up a church tomorrow in their own garden shed with no commitment to child protection or making their accounts transparent or any theological training.”


  33. The Persecution of Witches, 21st-Century Style


    Most people believe that the persecution of “witches” reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.

    In recent years, there has been a spate of attacks against people accused of witchcraft in Africa, the Pacific and Latin America, and even among immigrant communities in the United States and Western Europe. Researchers with United Nations refugee and human rights agencies have estimated the murders of supposed witches as numbering in the thousands each year, while beatings and banishments could run into the millions. “This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” Jeff Crisp, an official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told a panel in 2009, the last year in which an international body studied the full dimensions of the problem. A report that year from the same agency and a Unicef study in 2010 both found a rise, especially in Africa, of violence and child abuse linked to witchcraft accusations.

    More recent media reports suggest a disturbing pattern of mutilation and murder. Last year, a mob in Papua New Guinea burned alive a young mother, Kepari Leniata, 20, who was suspected of sorcery. This highly publicized case followed a series of instances over recent years of lethal group violence against women and men accused of witchcraft.

    “These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country,” said the prime minister, Peter O’Neill. Last year, Papua New Guinea finally repealed a 1971 law that permitted attackers to cite intent to combat witchcraft as a legal defense. But progress is slow. Although the police charged a man and woman in connection with the 2013 killing of Ms. Leniata, no one has faced trial, a fact that drew protest from Amnesty International in February.

    One of the ugliest aspects of these crimes is their brutality. Victims are often burned alive, as in Ms. Leniata’s case and a 2012 case in Nepal; or accused women are sometimes beaten to death, as occurred in the Colombian town of Santa Barbara in 2012; or the victims may be stoned or beheaded, as has been reported in Indonesia and sub-Saharan Africa.

    It is tempting to point to poverty in the developing world, as well as scapegoating, as the chief causes of anti-witch attacks — and such forces are undoubtedly at work. But while Africa and the southwestern Pacific have a long history of economic misery, much of this violence, especially against children, has worsened since 2000. The surge suggests forces other than economic resentment or ancient superstition.

    In some communities, it is chiefly young men who take on the role of witch hunters, suggesting that they may see it as a way to earn prestige by cleansing undesirables and enforcing social mores. That many of the self-appointed witch hunters are men highlights another baleful aspect of the phenomenon: The majority of victims are women. The Rev. Jack Urame of the Melanesian Institute, a Papua New Guinean human rights agency, estimates that witchcraft-related violence there is directed 5 to 1 against women, suggesting that witchcraft accusations are used to cloak gender-based violence.

    continued below

  34. Another factor, particularly in Central Africa and its diaspora communities, is the advent of revivalist churches, in which self-styled pastor-prophets rail against witchery and demon possession. They often claim to specialize in the casting out of evil spirits, sometimes charging for the service. Many of those congregations have emerged from Western evangelizing efforts.

    One of Nigeria’s most popular Pentecostal preachers, Helen Ukpabio, wrote that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.” As that implies, children in those communities are especially likely to be identified as possessed. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that most of the 25,000 to 50,000 children who live on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, were abandoned by family members who accused them of witchcraft or demonic possession.

    The etiology of this epidemic is complex, but human rights observers point to overpopulation, rapid urbanization and the hardship of parents forced to relocate to seek work, as well as the sheer stresses of raising children amid dire poverty. Superstitions are stoked by local “healers,” who charge parents to exorcise evil spirits.

    Witch hunting is far from limited, however, to acts of sadistic vigilantism or profiteering. Some legal systems even sanction the killing of accused witches.

    In 2011, courts in Saudi Arabia sentenced a man and a woman, in separate cases, to beheading after convictions for sorcery. In 2013, Saudi courts sentenced two Asian housemaids to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison on charges of casting spells against their employers.

    A Lebanese television psychic, Ali Hussain Sibat, was arrested in 2008, while on pilgrimage to Medina, by the Saudi religious police for hosting a television show in his native Lebanon, “The Hidden,” where he would make predictions and prescribe love potions and spells. After an outcry by Amnesty International and others, the Saudi courts stayed Mr. Sibat’s execution by beheading, but sentenced him in 2010 to a 15-year prison term.

    As in Africa, the wave of anti-witch activity in Saudi Arabia is fairly new. The Saudi religious police devised an Anti-Witchcraft Unit in 2009, resulting in the arrests of 215 alleged “conjurers” in 2012. Some observers attribute this sudden interest in witchery to the royal family’s attempts to appease its religious inquisitors by keeping them busy targeting a handful of vulnerable individuals.

    A final motive driving modern witch hunting may be more venal than spiritual: The police in Indonesia, where there were about 100 suspected witch killings in 2000, point to fraud and graft directed against vulnerable women, who, lacking family or community protection, fall prey to banishment or murder on slim pretexts, while their homes and property are seized by their accusers.

    Globalization means that paranoia over black magic and spirit possession are no longer confined to developing nations. Mass migration has made this a pervasive problem. In January, a Queens, N.Y., man was arrested for beating to death with a hammer his girlfriend, Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25; Carlos Alberto Amarillo told the police that the women were “witches,” who had been “performing voodoo and casting spells” on him. (Voodoo, more properly known as Vodou, is an authentic Afro-Caribbean faith based in deity worship and ritual, practiced in New York and many American cities. Other belief systems that retain or reinvent ancient nature worship and spell practices sometimes go under the names of Wicca or neo-paganism.)

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  35. It has not been confirmed whether the Queens victims had ties to Vodou (neither they nor the suspect were Afro-Caribbean). Accusations like those made by Mr. Amarillo, who is under psychiatric evaluation, often prove unreliable or are misreported in a sensationalist way. But the theme has nonetheless become alarmingly familiar in Western news coverage.

    In 2012, The Guardian reported that London police had during the last decade investigated 81 cases of “ritual abuse” of children accused of possession or witchcraft, a phenomenon that British social agencies fear is on the rise, particularly within African immigrant communities. In 2010, a 15-year-old boy, Kristy Bamu, was tortured and killed in East London by his older sister and her boyfriend, both Congolese, who had accused him of sorcery after he wet his bed. In the wake of that case, the British police started to receive special training on witchcraft-related abuse.

    Because anti-witch violence is rooted in the belief systems of traditional societies, it would be easy to slip into the fatalistic view that this crisis is a tragic repetition of ancient aggressions. But where local superstitions explode into violence or migrate across a wide range of settings and societies, we can and must act.

    Western branches of Pentecostal and charismatic Christian congregations must work closely with the more fervent ministries of their denominations among African and immigrant communities to foster an understanding of how “exorcisms” can spiral into deadly abuse. No African congregation wants to feel dictated to by the West, but there is a place for exchange and cultural pressure. Western ecclesiastical bodies can specifically enact prohibitions against for-profit exorcisms.

    Laws should be enacted against accusing children of witchcraft throughout the countries of Africa and the southwestern Pacific, as one Nigerian state has already done. And countries like the Solomon Islands that still criminalize witchcraft should strike down those statutes.

    Police indifference to crimes of witch hunting must also be tackled, especially in societies where police officers themselves may share in traditional beliefs about “black magic.” A 2012 British government report on combating faith-based violence against children provides a valuable guide to instructing the police on signs of abuse, asking religious leaders to condemn violence and protecting vulnerable witnesses.

    Legal efforts must be paired with increased social awareness. In a promising model, a 2010 Oxfam International report noted that some Catholic parishes in Papua New Guinea have been teaching congregants about the natural causes of death and illness (common triggers for anti-witch paranoia), providing shelter to accused witches and denying the sacraments to those who accuse others of sorcery.

    Crucial, too, is that the United Nations and international human rights organizations start compiling yearly statistics on these crimes. We’re severely hampered in understanding the scale of this crisis when our most recent global data are already five years out of date.

    Most important, witchcraft-related violence should be branded as hate crimes by international courts and by all jurisdictions where anti-hate statutes exist. This is vital to gaining wider recognition of this criminality and preventing it.

    In too many places, the accusation of witchcraft has become an incitement to mob violence. It is time to lay the ghosts of Salem to rest.

    Mitch Horowitz is the author of “Occult America” and “One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life.”


  36. Child ritual killings spread alarm, anger in Ivory Coast

    BY ANGE ABOA, ABIDJAN January 27, 2015

    (Reuters) - At least 21 children have been kidnapped in Ivory Coast since December and most have been found dead with their bodies mutilated, authorities said, in a wave of ritual killings some residents fear may be linked to upcoming elections.

    Police chief Brindou Mbia said security forces had been placed on high alert after the spate of child abductions but he declined to speculate what was behind the killings.

    In the commercial capital Abidjan, where at least three children have been abducted, residents expressed concern for the safety of their young ones.

    Many said the kidnappings were likely linked to ritual killings by corrupt businessmen and politicians, who used body part in ceremonies supposed to confer supernatural powers.

    "These are mystical and occult practices," said Didier Kobenan, an electrician. "This is about black magic and they need these human sacrifices to get money and power."

    Presidential and possibly legislative elections are scheduled to take place toward the end of the year in the world's largest cocoa producer and the economic motor of francophone West Africa.

    A spate of child abductions was recorded ahead of elections in 2010.

    The kidnappings have led to calls for action from the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, which urged authorities to do everything possible to quickly identify those responsible.

    "UNICEF is deeply worried by the kidnapping of children and the mutilated bodies that have been found," UNICEF's representative in Ivory Coast, Adele Khudr, said in a statement.

    Dominique Ouattara, the wife of Presidente Alassane Ouattara, appealed on Monday for the Interior Ministry to take action to protect children.

    "Let us avoid leaving children unwatched," she said.

    (Reporting by Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Alison Williams)


  37. 9 held for girl's death in witchcraft

    Deccan Herald, Koppal, DHNS, India February 18, 2015

    Nine people have been arrested for the death of a five-year-old girl, who was used for witchcraft in the pursuit of a hidden treasure at Hosalli village in the taluk on Tuesday.

    Fourteen people are involved in the case, including a sorcerer who is absconding, P Raja, district Superintendent of Police, said at a press conference.

    It is said that one of the accused lured the girl, Gayatri, daughter of hotelier Sharanabasappa, with chocolates, on the night of January 26. A case was registered at Munirabad police station on January 28.

    The girl was kept in the house of Mahendra Reddy, a worker in the farm of Shantilal, on the farm premises at Hosalli. Shantilal is a resident of Hosapete in Ballari district.

    On the night of February 3, poojas were performed and the blood from Gayatri’s finger was poured as a sacrificial offering during the homa.

    This was done to ‘appease’ two dead bodies said to have been buried on both sides of a treasure box, containing Rs eight crore, buried in the ground.

    The girl died due to lack of proper food and care. The suspects dumped the body in the toilet of the house of Anita, a neighbour, so as to escape being caught.

    The Superintendent of Police said that the exact cause of the girl’s death could be ascertained only after getting the post mortem report.

    A car, mobile phone and various articles used for witchcraft have been recovered by the police from the suspects.

    Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajeev led the operation to nab the suspects. Circle Inspector Satish Patel of the Rural police station, sub-inspectors Vishwanath and Anjaneya formed part of the team.


  38. Mutilated body of albino baby found in Tanzania

    Mutilated body of an albino toddler found in Tanzania, after body parts used for witchcraft, say police

    By AFP, February 18, 2015

    The mutilated body of an albino toddler has been found in Tanzania with his limbs hacked off, the latest such killing for body parts for witchcraft, the police said on Wednesday.

    The United Nations condemned the attack, warning that with general elections looming – when people may turn to witchcraft to boost political campaigns – albinos in Tanzania were facing a "dangerous year."

    The one-year old boy, Yohana Bahati, was seized by men with machetes from his home in northern Tanzania's Chato district overnight Saturday, with police finding the body on Tuesday afternoon in a forest area close to his home.

    "His arms and legs were hacked off," regional police chief Joseph Konyo said.

    The baby's mother Ester Jonas, aged 30, is in a serious state in hospital with machete cuts to her face and arms after she tried to protect her baby.

    The killing follows the kidnapping in December of a four-year-old albino girl also in northern Tanzania. Multiple arrests were made but the child has not been found.

    UN country chief Alvaro Rodriguez said he was "deeply concerned by the abductions of these two young children," saying that at least 74 albinos have been murdered in the east African country since 2000.

    The UN repeated its fears that attacks against albinos could be linked to looming general and presidential elections in October 2015, leading political campaigners to turn to influential sorcerers for help.

    "These attacks are accompanied by a high degree of impunity, and while Tanzania has made efforts to combat the problem, much more must be done to put an end to these heinous crimes and to protect this vulnerable segment of the population," he added.

    "This is the year of elections in Tanzania and, as some analysts have suggested, it could be a dangerous year for people living with albinism."

    Albino body parts sell for around $600 in Tanzania, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000, according to the UN.

    Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say. In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.

    The child's father, who was nearby during the attack, is being questioned by police.


  39. Witch camps in Ghana Breaking the spell

    Fear of the power of sorcery makes reintegrating the accused difficult

    By Carolyn Dunn, CBC News March 07, 2015

    Memuna Abukari sits at the door of a mud hut, accused of being a witch.

    "My nephew’s wife died," she explains in ​Dogbani​, her native language, "My family said I was responsible, they accused me of being a witch."

    A hen and a dozen chirping chicks brush by her feet while a neighbour woman pounds spices with a large wooden mortar and pestle.

    But Abukari, an old woman who doesn’t know her age, can’t see any of it. She is blind.

    People who are deemed different are often the first accused of practising dark magic.

    Abukari lives in a "witch camp" in Kpatinga, a community in Northern Ghana, hours from her own village.

    Here 46 women accused of witchcraft share 35 thatched-roof, one room huts.

    Abukari says she wants to go home, but only if her family wants her back. "I’d be happy to return," she says. Then her brow furrows. "But if my son doesn’t ask for me to come back, anything could happen."

    She has good reason to worry.

    A letter was sent to her family and village, informing them Abukari is to be returned after four years at the witch camp.

    The response from own son was chilling, according to the traditional priest and landlord ofthe camp. "He told them he would not come for her," Adam Musah says, "He said if they released his mother, he would kill her on the way back."

    Abukari’s story demonstrates the challenge Ghana is facing trying to shut down the witch camps and integrate the people in them back into society.

    There are six of these camps, housing more than 500 women and a handful of men accused of being wizards.

    Some of them have been there for decades.

    Shockingly, there are also about 300 children in exile.

    Some have been sent to aid an older or ailing relative with daily living, but many have been cast off because it’s believed they are possessed by the evil spirits of their relative.

    In Ghana, these are not considered irrational stories. Witches and to a lesser extent wizards are blamed for everything from causing deaths to the failing businesses.

    "The belief in witchcraft is pervasive in Ghana," Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin, the communications manager for ActionAid.

    "We don’t have exact statistics, but recent studies show that about 90 per cent of Ghanaians believe in witches and in witchcraft."

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  40. A century ago, those accused would have been killed.

    In modern times, they are driven from their villages to become the most feared and least wanted members of Ghanaian society.

    ActionAid is one of the agencies tasked with trying to shut down the camps, on the basis they are an unacceptable from a humanitarian perspective.

    "The condition in the camps are so terrible. They don’t have access to food, no access to even clean water," Tawiah-Benjamin says from his Accra office, "They don’t have any income, they don’t work."

    Indeed in Kpatinga, women are picking stones from maize they’ve picked up on the ground after a local harvest. Others are twisting raw cotton onto spools to sell to weavers for a pittance.

    "The only real problem we have is getting enough food," Asana Tahiru says.

    Like most of the other women here, she was accused of killing someone in her village by using witchcraft. She has no intention of ever going back to the community that cast her out. "I don’t intend to leave here. I’m very comfortable."

    In an effort to convince a village that a banished person is no longer a threat, they go through a cleansing ceremony by a traditional priest.

    "The traditional people do some magical incantations to exorcize that spirit," Tawiah-Benjamin says.

    There is a longer term plan to train those to be repatriated with a skill so they are not viewed as a burden on their family and community.

    But, there is no illusion it will be an easy task.

    Of the 55 accused witches supposed to be repatriated after the smallest camp in Ghana was closed in December, only five remain in their villages.

    Perhaps there’s a solution in the story of Memanatu Yagu.

    She has lost track of how long she has been at the Kpatinga witch camp, accused of sorcery in the death of a villager’s son.

    But, her husband, a farmer who has been a single father to the couple’s four children since, visits his wife regularly. "I love her," Suhuyini Baba says. "If I don’t come to visit, it will look like I’m not interested in her."

    The couple wants more than anything to live together again.

    But they hold no illusion their home will ever really be safe. "If I go back and someone died, they will accuse me of killing them," Yagu says.

    So her husband is planning to build a new house, a good distance from their village.

    He hopes in a year or two, he will finally be able to bring her home, "I love her," Baba says, "How can one have a wife and then suddenly, he doesn’t need her anymore?"


  41. Kampala accused of ignoring child sacrifice

    By PAUL REDFERN The East African March 7 2015


    · According to Ugandan police records, incidents of child sacrifice are on the increase, with 10 cases recorded in 2013.

    · The Ugandan Internal Trafficking Report estimated the number was 12, whereas first-hand interviews by Humane Africa detailed 77 incidents.

    · Current research by KidsRights states that these varying statistics are most likely the “tip of the iceberg, as data is insufficient and the real scope of child sacrifice is not yet visible.”

    Ugandan authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye to the issue of child sacrifice.

    According to a report by the Amsterdam-based NGO KidsRights, hundreds of children across Uganda are believed to have been victims of child sacrifice in recent years.

    Ureport, an SMS-based reporting system supported by Unicef and international development organisation Brac, says that every week, children in Uganda disappear when parents aren’t watching. Many are later found dead or if they are alive, they have blood or body parts missing.

    “In many of these cases, parts were removed by witch doctors when the children were still alive in a ritual of sacrifice,” says the KidsRights report No small sacrifice.

    “Such sacrificial rituals, and the subsequent wearing, burying or eating of a child’s body parts, are thought to bring business success, personal prosperity and health.”

    KidsRights says that the body parts are usually bought by middle-class clients. Children are either abducted from, or in some cases actually given to witch doctors by relatives out of desperation for money, the report says.

    Child sacrifices have also been reported in Nigeria, Swaziland, Liberia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, where the ritual killing of albinos is prevalent.

    “Most crimes go unreported, and despite Uganda’s anti-witchcraft laws, most witch doctors act without fear of prosecution,” the report says.

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  42. KidsRights says that Uganda ranks in the bottom 20 worldwide for its failure to protect children’s rights. The NGO also says that Ugandan government resources allocated for protecting children are “very limited and insufficient.”

    Uganda’s Witchcraft Act makes witchcraft technically illegal in Uganda, but having been drafted during colonial times, the Act lacks modern credibility and is rarely enforced.

    In 2009, the Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce was created within the Ugandan police, but it lacks the resources and manpower to monitor and investigate cases of child sacrifice. According to Unicef, it exists in name only.

    “Witch doctors, favoured by the rising middle classes, have powerful links with those in positions of power in Uganda, and the lack of resources may also reflect a lack of political will,” the report says.

    In Uganda, there are around 650,000 registered traditional healers, and an estimated three million in practice. Among these are the unscrupulous witch doctors who perform vicious crimes in the name of healing.

    Due to insufficient data and thorough research, the real scope of the spread of child sacrifice is not yet known. However, a 2013 report from Humane Africa said that during their four-month fieldwork period from June to September 2012 in Uganda, there was an average of one sacrifice each week in one of the 25 communities where the research was based.

    The practice is rooted in the belief that blood sacrifice can bring fortune, wealth and happiness. The “purer” the blood, the more potent the spell, making innocent children a target.

    Police reports say eastern Uganda has the highest incidence of child sacrifice cases; and blame the high infiltration on unregistered healers.

    But in 2012, in partnership with a Ugandan NGO, Adolescent Development Support Network (ADSN), UK charity Children on the Edge started a programme. The most important component of the programme has been the establishment of a community child protection committee (CCPC), to help raise awareness about child sacrifice.


  43. Tanzania arrests 32 witch doctors over albino murders


    Police in Tanzania said on Friday they had arrested 32 witch doctors this week as part of a campaign against ritual killings of albinos.

    Activists say attackers have killed at least 75 albinos in the east African country since 2000 to use their limbs and other body parts as charms meant to guarantee success in love, life and business.

    President Jakaya Kikwete last week vowed to stamp out the practice he said brought shame onto the east African country, and albino campaigners called on authorities on Friday to execute people convicted of the murders.

    "The witch doctors were arrested in possession of different items, including potions and oil from an unknown source," the police chief in the north-western town of Geita, Joseph Konyo, told reporters.

    He did not say whether they had been charged, or caught with anything relating to albinos, whose condition means they lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair.

    Seventeen people convicted of the murders are currently on death row, including four sentenced to death on Thursday -- but Tanzania has not carried out an execution for two decades.

    "We want all those convicted of killing persons with albinism to be hanged without delay in order to send a strong message that these attacks will no longer be tolerated," the chairman of the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS), Ernest Kimaya, told Reuters.

    "We made this appeal directly to the president during our meeting with him this week and he expressed his commitment to us that the government will expedite the process of carrying out executions of death row inmates convicted of such killings."

    Kimaya said the members feared the attacks, recently on the rise, would become even more frequent in the build-up to October elections, as some politicians turned to witch doctors to try to increase their chance of winning.

    "It is true that there is a link between elections and a rise in attacks on persons with albinism. It is something that we are aware of," Kimaya said.

    Similar beliefs exist in other African societies about albinos. But activists say attacks are particularly prevalent in Tanzania.

    Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe told Reuters the president had to give a written consent for an execution to be carried out.

    (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by George Obulutsa)


  44. Albino boys hand hacked off for witchcraft

    9 News, Australia March 12, 2015

    The first pictures have emerged of a six-year-old Tanzanian albino boy whose hand was hacked off with a machete in a brutal home invasion.

    Baraka Cosmas was at his family’s home in Western Tanzania on Saturday when a group of men stormed inside the house and held him down.

    They chopped off Baraka's hand before beating him and his mother Prisca Shaaban so badly they both had to be hospitalised.

    Local police have arrested seven suspects over the savage attack which has been linked to a trade in albino body parts for witchdoctors who turn them into charms and potions for wealthy clients.

    Attacks on albinos in east Africa, particularly children, have surged recently and are often stunningly vicious, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ra'ad Al Hussein Zeid said.

    The violence has left many people with albinism "living in abject fear," Mr Zeid said.

    "Some no longer dare to go outside, and children with albinism have stopped attending school because of the recent spate of assaults, murders and kidnappings," he added.

    In the past six months, at least 15 people with albinism in Tanzania, Malawi and Burundi have been abducted, wounded, killed or escaped being kidnapped, including three such attacks in the past week alone, his office said.

    Half the attacks that have taken place since August occurred in Tanzania. Two people were killed, including a one-year-old boy whose arms and legs were hacked off, and one remains missing. Two others had limbs cut off, and one of the victims was gang-raped, the UN said.

    The UN has warned that the surge in Tanzania could be linked to looming general and presidential elections in October 2015, as political campaigners may be turning to influential sorcerers to improve their odds.

    Tanzanian authorities imposed a ban on witchcraft in January.

    In Burundi, 19 albinos have been killed since 2008.

    In Malawi, at least six attacks have been reported so far this year. In one province, "groups of men are reported to be roaming around hunting for people with albinism", the UN said.

    Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.


  45. 200 witchdoctors arrested in Tanzania crackdown

    AFP March 12, 2015

    Dar es Salaam (AFP) - Over 200 people have been arrested in Tanzania as part of a nationwide crackdown on witchdoctors linked to a wave of albino attacks and murders, police said Thursday.

    Police said they had arrested 225 unlicenced traditional healers and soothsayers during a special operation carried out in several parts of the east African country and due to be extended to all 30 regions.

    "Some of those arrested were found in possession of items like lizard skin, warthog teeth, ostrich eggs, monkey tails, bird claws, mule tails and lion skin," police spokesperson Advera Bulimba said in a statement.

    Bulimba said the police campaign would target the entire network of gangsters, traders and witchdoctors, adding that 97 of those detained had already appeared in court.

    The statement also appealed to religious leaders, traditional elders, politicians and journalists "to continue the awareness campaign against superstitious beliefs that are holding back the development of our country."

    The announcement comes after President Jakaya Kikwete said the ongoing attacks against people with albinism, whose body parts are used for witchcraft, were "disgusting and a big embarrassment for the nation".

    In the most recent reported attack, a six-year-old albino boy's hand was hacked off with a machete and his mother assaulted as she tried to protect him.

    On Tuesday police said seven suspects had been arrested in connection with that attack, which left the boy and his mother hospitalised.

    Last week a Tanzanian court sentenced four people to death for the murder of an albino woman whose legs and right hand were hacked off with an axe and machete.

    The killers who were convicted also included the husband of the murdered woman.

    President Kikwete met with albino activists last week, promising to do more to stop the wave of violence.

    "The government has long tried to do everything possible to stop the killings, we are very serious with this," the president said in a statement.

    "But we still need to enhance our efforts to bring to an end these killings, which are disgusting and a big embarrassment to the nation."

    At least 76 albinos have been murdered since 2000 with their dismembered body parts selling for around $600 and entire bodies fetching $75,000, according to United Nations experts.

    A further 34 albinos have survived having parts of their bodies hacked off while still alive and grave robbers have dug up at least 15 more, seeking buried limbs and bodies.

    Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.