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06.01.2010 Crime & Punishment

Council to take action against fetish priest in trial by ordeal

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Accra, Jan. 5, GNA - The Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC) on Tuesday said it would take punitive measures against a Kumasi-based fetish priest who took an alleged thief through a "trial by ordeal" experience to establish his guilt or innocence.

It said: "We are awaiting a formal complaint from the victim to guide our actions, but in the mean time, we will dispatch some of our personnel to visit his shrine to ascertain the situation to inform our actions."

Mr. Francis Hlortsi-Akakpo, Registrar of the TMPC, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said the conduct of the fetish priest did not only violate the Council's code of practice but also infringed on the human rights of the victim.

He also condemned the action of two police officers who allegedly took the victim to the shrine for the "trial" saying the officers clearly misconducted themselves.

The TMPC's position is informed by media reports on Tuesday suggesting that two police officers took an alleged thief to a shrine of a Kumasi-based fetish priest to ascertain his guilt or innocence.

In the process, the fetish priest took the alleged thief through a "trial by ordeal" where he pronounced him guilty but the accused has maintained his innocence and threatened legal action against the police and the fetish priest.

The accused was said to have stolen money belonging to the owner of a house in which he lodged in Kumasi.

Mr. Hlortsi-Akakpo said the Traditional Medicine Practice Act of 2000, Act 575, "proscribes any form of practice or treatment which infringes on people's human rights".

He added that he could not understand why the police who ought to know better allegedly encouraged such a practice by sending the accused to the shrine.

He said the TMPC issued a guideline prescribing what treatment practitioners could offer clients.

Mr. Hlortsi-Akatsi said this was to regulate as well as streamline the activities of practitioners to correspond to the best international standards to instil confidence in the sector because over 60 per cent of the population patronized traditional medicine at the primary health care level.

He said despite this, some of the practitioners refused to register with the TMPC and "hide in the hamlets to engage in all kinds of activities that go against the code of the Council".

"It will interest you to know that the divine priest who was involved in this practice is not a registered member of the Council," Mr. Hlortsi-Akakpo said.

He said the Council would step up its monitoring and supervisory mechanism to eliminate all the charlatans in the sector.

He called on the media not to hesitate to call on the TMPC to seek clarification on issues concerning the sector.


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