By Abou Kisige
A group of children and traditional healers have petitioned Parliament to amend the Witchcraft Act 1957 to separate witchcraft from genuine traditional medicine.
â€œWe request the Government to amend the Witchcraft Act because witchcraft today is being practiced in the name of traditional medicine, which is widely acceptable to some Ugandans,â€ the petition read.
The Act bans all witchcraft-related activities by imposing a life sentence or imprisonment of up to 10 years on anybody who threatens or causes harm, disease or death to others by practicing witchcraft.
Anybody practicing witchcraft or purporting to be a witch commits an offence and risks up to five years in jail, while those who procure witchcraft services face not less than five years in prison.
In a joint petition to Parliament, the children and traditional healers said witchcraft undermines the work of genuine traditional healers whose role is being threatened and spoilt by those engaged in the inhuman practice.
According to the Police, 25 people have been killed in circumstances suspected to be human sacrifice this year, 13 of whom were children.
The petition was received by the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Forum for Children, Ben Ogwal, on behalf of the Speaker on Thursday.
They also urged the Government to support to the anti-human sacrifice taskforce in the Police to ensure effective management of human sacrifice investigations.
â€œThe Government should implement the Trafficking in Persons Act because of its possible relationship with child sacrifice,â€ said Joan Nansamba, a pupil of Makerere Day and Boarding School.
The children and traditional healers held a solidarity walk against the vice. They carried placards reading: â€œChildren are not goats or cows for slaughter, stop child sacrificeâ€.
The walk was spearheaded by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect in a joint campaign with the Police.
The organisers included Save the Children Uganda, Plan International, World Vision, UNICEF, Uganda Child Rights NGO Network and Defense for Children International.
The Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children, Promotion of Traditional Medicines and Rwenzori Beverages also supported the march.
Deogratius Yiga, one of the organisers, said the campaign was aimed at increasing awareness and vigilance against human sacrifice.
â€œAs we join the rest of the world to celebrate 20 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, we come together in this campaign against human sacrifice,â€ he said.
Yiga was flanked by Moses Binoga, the head of the anti-human sacrifice taskfoce.
â€œTraditional healing is not synonymous with witchcraft. We ask the Government to set up a special court to try the suspects,â€ he added.