UN Reports Rise in Ritual Killings in Liberia, and Impunity for Witchcrafts’ Perpetrators

witches are not tried by law. But by ordeal

witches are not tried by law. But by ordeal

The United Nations says Liberia must act against the wide spread culture of impunity for perpetrators of ritualistic killings. A report by the UN Human Right Commission and the UN Mission in Liberia strongly criticized the Liberian authorities for permitting the trial of people accused of witchcraft by ordeal and urged the Liberian government to put its human rights obligation before traditional practices.

The report indicted the government of being “reluctant” to investigate or prosecute cases involving human rights violations as they relate to trial by ordeal and those accused of killing for the purposes of making “juju” in order to seek high political offices.

Authorities are reluctant because they fear backlash from the practioners of the culture, some of whom are reported to be public officials, the report said. Women, children, disabled  and the elderly are the main victims, the report added.

“Criminal offences perpetrated through harmful traditional practices often go unpunished due to their perceived cultural dimensions,” said the joint report from the UN Commission on Human rights and the UN mission in Liberia.

Trial by ordeal involves painful treatment of the accused to establish their guilt or innocence.

Nine cases of ritualistic related killings have been reported to the UN Mission in Liberia. Local media, however, say the number of suspected murders ae much higher. Ritualistic killing is an act of murdering someone to extract body parts for ritual. Many in African countries believe human body parts can be a powerful magical source of influence and power. with Liberian elections only 2 years away, such practice has become prevalent.

In the late 1970s, those found guilty of such acts were executed by hanging.

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is said to have promised to crack down  against thse responsible.

Filed in: Life Style

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