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UN Human Rights Council Event – Witchcraft and Human Rights Expert Workshop

 

On September 21st and 22nd 2017, WHRIN, together with the UN Independent Expert on Albinism and Lancaster University, organised the first ever UN Expert Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights at the UN Human Rights Council. Co-organizers for the event were the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

The workshop was ground-breaking and the first of its kind at the UN or international level. It brought together UN Experts, academics and members of civil society to discuss the violence associated with such beliefs and practices and groups that are particularly vulnerable. The event highlighted the various manifestations of witchcraft beliefs and practice, including accusations, stigma, and ritual killings, before identifying good practice in combating such practices. The event marked an important step towards mainstreaming the issue into the UN Human Rights system, whilst providing impetus and practical guidance to the numerous international and regional mechanisms, academics and civil society actors that have been working to raise awareness and understanding of these challenging issues.

Whilst the workshop marked an important step in the fight to prevent more human rights abuses taking places due to beliefs in witchcraft, it is important that we use it as a springboard to TAKE MORE ACTION and keep the momentum up behind the movement that our network is creating. Please click HERE to see how WHRIN intends to support this happening.

More details about the UN Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights can be found below:

TV Coverage – You can view the entire workshop online via UN Web TV via the following links:

Preliminary Findings – A presentation of the preliminary findings from the workshop can be found here. A full report on the findings from the workshop will be compiled and submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by early 2018. WHRIN will look to update the network on progress here.

Photos – A slideshow of the photos of the event can be found here. With sincere thanks to Don Sawatsky from Under the Same Sun.

Press Coverage – The workshop was widely covered in the International Media. Please see links below:

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Publicity Video of the Workshop 

Remarks by Kate Gilmore, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence Against Children welcomes commitment to tackle impunity for witchcraft related human rights violations and to children’s protection from violence

Experts Propose Steps to End Practices Related to Witchcraft

UN moves against witchcraft, abuse of human rights, others

The Trade in Body Parts of People with Albinism is Driven by Myth and International Inaction

 

Sorcery and death squads. Transformations of state, sovereignty, and violence in postcolonial Mozambique. (2009)

Mozambique norm and standard has been reported to support “summary executions by police” and “police killings” in all major cities in Mozambique. Bertelsen explains the correlation between state and violence, with accompanying human rights violations that are currently taking place within Mozambique. 

See full article here

Witches’ wealth: witchcraft, confession, and Christianity in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea, 2010

Many anthropologists claim that so-called modern witchcraft is often only a reflection of traditional cultural observations. In Auhelawa (Milne Bay province, Papua New Guinea), perspectives are changing. Christianity has reshaped the cultural conception of personhood, space, and time, detaching witchcraft from the ethos of kinship. In this context, Western wealth symbolizes witchcraft as a moral failing.

See full article here

Zambia: Mob Kills, Buries Man Accused of Witchcraft

A seventy-two year old man of Kabende Village in Chief Kasoma Bangweulu in Samfya has been killed and buried by a mob that suspected him of practising witchcraft. Muchinga Kabali was killed on Sunday February 24.

Luapula Province Police chief Malcolm Mulenga said Mr Kabali was suspected of changing into a crocodile which was terrorising and killing people in the area. When police officers rushed to the village, they found the mob had dispersed and the body of Mr Kabali was already buried by the same mob.

Read more here

Safeguarding children controlled through belief in ritual oaths, ‘child witches’, or religious and traditional practices, 2009

This document aims to highlight the key indicators which connect these practices to child trafficking
for sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude and offers practice guidance for practitioners who may work with child victims.

See full report here.

USA: Deal with devil prompted girl’s killing

Two teenage boys were hoping to make a deal with the devil when they sexually assaulted and killed a 15-year-old suburban Houston girl in a satanic ritual, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Seventeen-year-old Jose E. Reyes and a 16-year-old boy are accused of disfiguring the girl’s body, including carving an upside down crucifix on her stomach.

Read more here

Angola – Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, 24 March 2010

The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, established in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, held its seventh session from 8 February to 19 February 2010. The review of Angola was held at the 10th meeting, on 12 February 2010. The delegation of Angola was headed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Relations, Georges Chikoty. At its 14th meeting, held on 16 February 2010, the Working Group adopted the report on Angola.

A list of questions prepared in advance by Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Argentina, Belgium and the Netherlands was transmitted to Angola through the troika. Those questions are available on the extranet of the universal periodic review.

See full report here

India: Inclusion of witch-hunting under laws on domestic violence and sexual harassment favoured

Contrary to popular belief, widows and single women are not the only ones vulnerable to witch hunting. In fact, witch-hunting appeared to be a prevalent form of violence used to target middle aged women fully ensconced in their marital homes, according to a study. Read more here 

PRESS RELEASE (11.11.13): Human Rights Groups Call for Week of Social Media Activism Against Witch-Hunts in Cross River State, Nigeria

Please download the press release here

Nepal: CARE Annual Report 2012

CARE envisions of empowering 50 million women and girls at risk across Asia to take control over their lives by 2020. Building on the need to start in organisationally, it is investing in female leadership across the region to increase women’s leadership in CARE in Asia and the Pacific to at least/more than/not less than 50%. Promoting women’s leadership at all levels is a key priority for CARE Nepal. They were first in the region to start a Women’s Forum that provides a platform for women to express themselves and hone their leadership skills. The first national retreat of the Women’s Forum was organised in April 2012. It was the first of its kind in the 35 years history of CARE Nepal and 55 women staff from CARE Nepal, across the region participated. Read their 2012 Annual Report here