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30.11.2011 General News

'Witches' conference underway in Tamale

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Tamale, Nov. 29, GNA - Ms Adwoa Kwateng-Kluvitse, Country Director of ActionaAid Ghana, has called on the Government to develop an action plan in line with the promise made in the 2010 budget statement on witches protection.

She said the budget indicated that the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs would put in place some social protection interventions to ensure that the fundamental human rights of the alleged witches were protected.

The Country Director also called on Government to initiate a long term action plan that would lead to the total dismantling and disbandment of the alleged witches' camps for the safe return of the women and the children to their communities where they could live in dignity for the rest of their lives.

Ms Kwateng-Kluvitse made these suggestions in Tamale on Tuesday during a consultative conference of the alleged witches organised by ActionAid and Songtaba, both partner NGOs. It is aimed at instituting a roadmap that would guide the process in the disbandment of the witches camps in the country.

The two-day conference, has brought together some alleged witches from the Kukuo, Nabuli, Kpatinga, Bonyase, Gambaga and Gnani witches camps all in the Northern Region as well as civil society.

Most of the alleged witches gave testimonies of the dehumanizing conditions they were in with their children.

The conference, which also brought together chiefs and traditional priests of the witches' camps, was on the theme: “Disband the alleged witches' camp: using the total approach for reintegration”.

It is estimated that about 800 alleged witches and 500 children of school going age were living in these camps.

Ms Kwateng-Kluvitse noted that ActionAid has been working in these camps since 2005 in providing the immediate needs of the alleged witches, which included providing them with boreholes, food, clothing, children needs, seeds, fertilizer and shelter to ensure their survival.

She said the NGO had also addressed the worst of the situation by using a participatory method that was human rights based in building the knowledge, understanding and capacities of the alleged witches in their human rights as enshrined and defined in international conventions and legislations in Ghana.

Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba, Northern Regional Minister in a speech read for him indicated that there was the need for all stakeholders to put their expertise together to ensure the safety of the alleged witches, adding that under the 1992 constitution of Ghana, it was unacceptable to put humans in conditions that is affront to their rights.

Sheik Dr. Al-Husein Zakaria, who chaired the conference, indicated that witchcraft allegations were purely cultural that conflicts with science, law and enlightenment and should not be accepted in the modern era of civilization.