Children on the Edge celebrates as ground-breaking new law is passed in Uganda criminalising the practice of child sacrifice.
After five years of civil society campaigning, Children on the Edge is delighted to announce that The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Act 2021 was officially signed into law on the 14th July 2021.
The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Bill 2020 was passed by Ugandan Parliament on the 4th May 2021. Before it could officially become Law, it needed to be prepared for 'assent' by the President of Uganda.
We are pleased to say that The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Act was assented on the 14th July 2021 and communities now have the backing of the law to protect their children. Read more about how a Bill becomes law in Uganda.
The new law aims to curb rampant cases of human sacrifice in Uganda by addressing gaps in the existing legislation that do not adequately handle the appalling practice of child sacrifice and ritual murder as a specific crime.
Children on the Edge, together with Annie Ikpa (media professional and the instigator of the concept of this Bill), Children on the Edge Africa and World Vision Uganda have been at the forefront of campaigning for a change in the law, leading up to this crucial decision.
The practice of child sacrifice
Child sacrifice has emerged as a horrifying form of child abuse in Uganda. In the past decade, the sacrifice of children in Uganda has been cited by the media, police and Government of Uganda as a major child protection concern. Police records continue to highlight numerous cases of child sacrifice in the country and the media in Uganda has been awash with stories covering the gruesome ritualised mutilation or murder of young children.
Rachel Bentley, CEO and Cofounder of Children on the Edge says “Human sacrifice cases have a very unique nature, but have historically been prosecuted as murder under the Penal Code Act, or under Human Trafficking legislation, neither of which is sufficient to deal with the crime. Sadly, this has resulted in perpetrators committing crimes with relative impunity and the unchecked growth of the practice”.
A study carried out by Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) with support from Children on the Edge, showed how the practice is rooted in a number of socio-economic and cultural factors as well as traditional beliefs that the ritual murder or mutilation of children can bring health, wealth and good fortune. Children are more likely to fall victims to sacrifice compared to adults, because they are more easily lured and believed to be “pure”. Adults drawn to the practice are tricked into believing that the purity of a child makes the ritual more powerful.
Child Protection Teams help to stop the practice in Jinja
A ‘Child Protection Team’ model was created by Children on the Edge at the height of a spate of child sacrifice killings in Jinja, Uganda in July 2012, effectively eradicating incidents .
Campaigning for change
Since 2015, Children on the Edge have been supporting stand-alone legislation, specifically addressing child sacrifice through the passing of the Prevention of Human Sacrifice and Harmful Practices Bill. Together with Annie Ikpa, they worked with a group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to engage the ‘Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children’ to draft the original form of Bill.
Working with the police, the media and traditional healers, looking at how cases are dealt with and promoting a petition to ensure witch doctors do not advertise through the media. In 2017, through work with Ugandan Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN), the group focussed on gaining testimonies from survivors and families and it was after this that MP Atiku Bernard introduced a private members Bill for the Act. At this point Children on the Edge were delighted to be joined by World Vision Uganda, fighting to ensure this Bill became law, and have been working very closely with them ever since.
As the years have passed, Annie and these two organisations were joined by a strong group of other Ugandan agencies as well as members of parliament in this campaign. The group has worked through the meticulous process of numerous research projects, rewrites, refinements and readings, to get to the crucial landmark decision that was made in Parliament on May 4th.
The passing of the Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Act is monumental; ending the horrifying practice of child sacrifice in Uganda, saving lives and making communities safer for children.
Gladys Akelo, Programme Coordinator at Children on the Edge Africa said “When the news came through about the Bill passing we were all in a team meeting. The whole of our office was jumping up and down, screaming and shouting. It is a huge load off our shoulders after over five years of campaigning. It is a milestone and the fact that the law not only covers direct perpetrators, but those who fund and fuel them from the shadows, this will make the difference”.