MP wants Witchcraft Act amended
16 June 2015, 08:04
Nairobi – Malindi MP, Dan Kazungu is set to introduce amendments to the Witchcraft Act through a Bill in Parliament to conform provisions in the law to the current issues for holistic resolutions to witchcraft-related cases.
Kazungu points out that Chapter 67 of the Act has gaps in resolving witchcraft cases amicably since revenge has been the order of the day where victims of the practice have found themselves in prison after lynching the alleged tormentors.
“Witchcraft is real in most of our communities and the old laws in the Witchcraft Act have to be conformed to sort out these issues amicably and end anarchy for victims not to be left with the choice of killing and maiming then the law takes its course,” said Kazungu.
The Malindi MP said although it is difficult to measure witchcraft, a proper mechanism in law for mutual benefit between the victim and the alleged tormentor will help curb witnessed loss of lives and cases of imprisonment of people in Machakos, Makueni, Kisii, Siaya, Mombasa, Kwale and other parts of the country.
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He added that revenge on alleged witches by victims has had devastating consequences such as interfering with the children’s learning and growth particularly where heads of families are jailed for killing the tormentors.
Chapter 67 of the Witchcraft Act states, “Any person who accuses or threatens to accuse any person with being a witch or with practicing witchcraft shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding KES 500 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; provided that this section shall not apply to any person who makes an accusation to a DC, police officer, a chief or any other person in authority."
“Any chief who directly or indirectly permits, encourages or facilitates the practice of witchcraft or the doing of any act contrary to the provisions of this Act, or who knowing of the practice does not report it to a DC, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding KES 500 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years,” it adds.
The Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLR) constitutionally mandated to keep under review all the laws and recommend the required reforms in collaboration with other law-making bodies also recommended the realignment of the Witchcraft Act to the 2010 Constitution.
KLR said the review of the Witchcraft Act would help eradicate contradictions on whether witchcraft exists or not in addition to changing some terms used in the statute such as “so-called witchcraft” in section 2 of the Act to be substituted with less ambiguous words to bring out the certainty that is craved by the courts and the consumers of the law.
The Commission also wants the Act reviewed not to recognize the defunct provincial administration which was present in the repealed Constitution, with Section 9 providing that the District Commissioner may order a person practicing witchcraft to reside in specified place.
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