CHRAJ’s Northern Regional Office Engages Chiefs On Human Rights Abuses Against Persons Accused Of Witchcraft
Some vulnerable persons, mostly poor rural women in their late 60s suffer various kinds of violations of their fundamental human rights and freedoms by people who accuse them of being witches. This is a socio-cultural phenomenon that has existed with the people over ages and efforts to bring about change have been met with resistance over the years. In the year 2011 however, there was a pronouncement by the then Minister for Women and Children, Mrs. Juliana Azumah-Mensah for the closure of all the ‘witches camps’ in the Northern Region.
To facilitate this closure, stakeholders came together and formed the National Re-Integration Committee. The Committee sought to promote the rights of persons accused of witchcraft and the sustainable re-integration of those accused and banished to the then seven camps in the region.
Since the latter part of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018 there has been an upsurge in the level of abuses of the rights of women accused of witchcraft in the region. To address this situation, CHRAJ in collaboration with other key members of the re-integration Committee who are Action Aid Ghana and the Department of Gender, Women and Social Protection in Tamale, conducted sensitization programmes on April 17, 2018 to April 19, 2018 in two traditional areas (Bunkpurugu and Nakpanzoo) for 79 chiefs, 26 queen mothers and their people, to enlighten them on the rights of persons accused of witchcraft. The meeting offered the opportunity to also discuss strategies to protect the rights of women and all accused persons in their communities. The team was accompanied by a representative of the Gambadaana (Chief of Gamabaga and Priest of the Gamabaga shrine).
The three Member Team on their three days sensitization trip, later met with the chief and family members of women in the Nabuli camp to consolidate plans for their sustainable re-integration to their various communities. The activities were financed by Action Aid Ghana and CHRAJ did the technical work.
At Bunkpurugu, the participants appealed to CHRAJ to educate Pastors and Imams in the area about human rights because they are the people who are alleged to be promoting the suspicions, accusations and abuse of the accused women’s rights. The chief of Bunkpurugu appealed to CHRAJ to open an office in Bunkpurugu to educate and protect the peoples’ rights.