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UN moves against witchraft, abuse of human rights, others

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Alarmed by various cases of human rights abuse in the name of witchraft and others, the United Nations (UN) has moved against spread of witchcraft beliefs and practices of ‘religious entrepreneurs’.

A press statement by Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) and singned by its Executive Director, Gary Foxcroft, said the UN has announced its commitment to tacking the ongoing abuses of human rights that are taking place around the world.

The statement, which dwell on the recent Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights, which was held in Geneva last week, quoted the UN’s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights – Ms. Kate Gilmore as saying, “be it in the name of witchcraft or spirituality or religion or political ideology; long standing tradition or recent fad; be it in the name of knowledge or ignorance: beatings, banishment, cutting of body parts, amputation of limbs, torture and murder – these are appalling violations of human rights – no matter the attempted excuse, no matter the proffered explanation.”

Gilmore stated that these abuses are being spread by “ruthless religious entrepreneurs who are left free to turn people’s fears to callous profit – selling costly and harmful exorcism services and related artifacts to people afflicted by tragedy, turmoil, deprivation, hopelessness.” The Expert Workshop, which was organised by the UN Independent Expert on Albinism, Ms Ikponwosa Ero, along with the WHRIN and Lancaster University, was ground-breaking in that it was the first time that a global gathering had been held at the UN level to address these challenges.

A report launched by WHRIN at the Expert Workshop, which analysed online cases of abuses linked to beliefs in witchcraft, documented a total of 398 reports from 49 countries in 2016.

This according to the statement was “an increase from 282 and 41 respectively in 2013, thereby representing a 41% and 20% increase from 2013 study results. Witchcraft beliefs and practices were reported in every continent and were associated with high-levels of violence, most especially in Nigeria and India.

“In a worrying new development, high rates of human sacrifice were also recorded in India”. Foxcroft, said: “our report highlights the crisis in human rights that has been brought about by the international inaction on these challenging issues.

Thankfully, the UN has now acknowledged their severity and we look forward to working with them, and our wider network, to ensure that a UN Special Resolution should be passed in 2019 thereby mainstreaming the issues into their wider reporting structures.”

workshop highlighted the various manifestations of witchcraft beliefs and practices, including accusations, stigma and ritual killings, before looking to identify solutions needed to stem the increasing human rights violations that have been recorded across the world due to such harmful beliefs and practices. But the exact numbers of victims of such abuses is unknown and is widely believed to be under-reported. The statement further stated,” at the very least, it is believed that there are thousands of cases of people accused of witchcraft each year globally, often with fatal consequences, and others are mutilated and killed for their body parts to be used by witch-doctors to enable people to gain power or wealth.



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