Originally published in UG Christian News
The offence of murder cannot be preferred, legislators warn
A cross section of legislators encouraged Ugandans to seek knowledge from the Bible, and abandon primitive behaviour, including witchcraft, as a new law criminalising the act of human sacrifice was passed. This took place on Tuesday during a sitting chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
According to the parliamentary press, the new law will sentence those involved in such an act to death or lead to a lengthy imprisonment. The bill, which was brought to Parliament by Hon Bernard Atiku of Ayivu County, titled the Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Bill 2020, generated undivided support from MPs.
Atiku said the bill aims to provide for the crime and offence of human sacrifice, fines and penalties for the offence of human sacrifice, a loophole he says the perpetrators have taken advantage of.
He also said: “Human sacrifice is a growing concern to law enforcement agencies, parents, child rights activists and the general public. Records from the Uganda Police Force show that human sacrifice cases have been steadily increasing for several years.”
Atiku pointed out that reports of human sacrifice, especially of children have been rampant in Uganda since the 1990s and have continued to escalate. “Every year, the Uganda Police Force Annual Crime illustrate that the offence of human sacrifice has escalated in Uganda without abatement,” he added.
The vice chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Paul Akamba said the committee unreservedly backed the bill, noting that currently, there is a grey area in legislation that relates to possession of human body parts, also considering that there is no specific law in Uganda prohibiting the possession or sale of human body organs.
“Body parts can be removed from a living or dead person, the offence of murder cannot be preferred since in most cases, there is no dead body to sustain a charge”.
He stated that there is a need for a specific law on human sacrifice that takes cognisance of the unique nature of the offence and provides the specifications needed to give it its correct status.
The leader of the opposition, Hon Betty Aol Ocan stated that the main victims of human sacrifice are children and often based on primitive, cultural beliefs.
“Sometimes these people kills [sic] these children to take them to witchdoctors for wealth yet these very witchdoctors have no money,” she said. Ocan said people should abandon primitive behaviour and “seek knowledge from the Bible”.
Additionally, the Minister of State for Planning, Hon David Bahati said it was disheartening to note that human traffickers earn over US$30 billion (R 430 billion) per year.
“We must therefore, uphold the principles of this law and even strengthen some of the proposals,” Bahati said.
He held that when it comes to punishment of those who are found guilty of human trafficking, the sentence should be longer than 10 years.
“It is abhorring to hear that someone will make sacrifice of a child’s life to construct a building so that it can generate a lot of wealth for them,” Bahati said.
The bill will also impose the death penalty on a person who commits the offence where such a person is the parent, guardian or person with authority or control over the victim, or in an instance which results in the death of the victim.
”Where a person causes grievous bodily harm to the victim, the person should be liable to imprisonment for life and if the person causes any other injury to the victim, the person should be liable to imprisonment for ten years,” the bill states.
The bill also criminalises the financing of the act of human sacrifice in clause three, stating: “a person shall not finance another person, whether directly or indirectly, to commit the offence of human sacrifice and a person who contravenes this subsection commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to suffer death.”
The speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said that parliament has provided an avenue for justice for all the victims, especially children of human sacrifice.