UCU’s Africa Policy Centre Joins Fight to End Child Sacrifice in Uganda
Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2018/08/ucus-africa-policy-centre-joins-fight-to-end-child-sacrifice-in-uganda/
By Alex Taremwa
On the sidelines of the Hope Event organized by Kyampisi Childcare Ministries at the Kampala Serena Hotel is Joseph Nkunda, a 54-year-old pastoralist in the rural district of Nakasongola along the Kampala-Gulu highway.
Nkunda narrates that after two of his children – Canaan, 10, and Sylvia Nkunda, 7, returned from school in 2009, he asked them to look after the cows as he went to buy food from the market. After the father left, a man the children didn’t know approached them with a sharpened machete and claimed that the cows had destroyed his garden. The children denied the claim, but the man overpowered them.
“He commanded them to walk ahead of him so he could go and show them the garden that the cows had allegedly destroyed and since he had the machete, they could not object,” Nkunda continued.
When they got to a shrub, he motioned the children to sit on the ground. The boy refused, but the accuser grabbed him by the neck and his sister by the hands.
“He cut the boys neck from behind and the boy fell flat, lifeless, unconscious and bleeding profusely. He left him for dead and then cut the girl into several pieces, drained her blood, took her heart and her genitals,” the father recounted both privately at an August 24, 2018, cocktail reception for about 75 people and later that night in front of 1,000 parents, children, Ugandan officials and non-profit representatives from Uganda, Australia and the United States.
Because the boy was unconscious, the witchdoctor thought he was dead. But he wasn’t. Upon his return, Joseph Nkunda could not believe his eyes to find his children – ones he left alive and well an hour ago – lying lifeless in the jungle. He fainted.
Fast forward, the boy survived, and the witchdoctor was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. Nkunda believes the sentence could have been tougher and more lives saved had there been stricter laws in Uganda against child sacrifice and trafficking.
“Most cultures and traditions in Uganda still believe in appeasing the ‘gods’ with blood sacrifice of mostly children for they are considered pure and holy,” William Kasoba, a children’s activist, said.
Kasoba claimed that in Uganda, two of every 10 children are classified as targeted for child sacrifice. He added that some sacrifices are condoned by parents for material gain and that the business of witchcraft under the guise of “traditional healers, herbalists” is thriving.
This is where Uganda Christian University (UCU)’s think-tank Africa Policy Centre (APC) comes in. A study conducted by the Centre has been shared by the Parliamentary Committee on Children’s Welfare demanding for tougher legislation on child sacrifice.
“Prosecutors currently rely on the Penal Code Act, the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, and a series of legislation designed to enforce constitutional provisions on the right to life, personal liberty and freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The relevant parts of Ugandan law shows how inadequate it is to address child sacrifice,” Dr. Dickson Kanakulya, a Senior Researcher at the APC, said.
Kanakulya agrees with Justice Margaret Mutoni that the current law is too lenient for criminals who kidnap children with the intention to kill them but somehow the children survive. Parents who have lost their children to the vice call for even tougher and more extreme sentences – like the death penalty.
“The perpetrators are charged with manslaughter or kidnapping and are given lighter sentences that do not send out a clearer message that the practice is unacceptable and condemned,” he added.
In their legislation proposal, the APC calls for a unified missing persons database and the implementation of uniform procedures in investigation, training for law enforcement, and minimum standards of investigative excellence. APC also demands that the new legislation should name an NGO (or a network of NGOs) that will deal with all aspects of victim care.
Regents University in Virginia, a collaborative partner with UCU and the APC, was recognized for its program of bringing new attorneys to help wage the child sacrifice fight through the Uganda Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Also applauded for efforts were World Vision; the Ugandan Ministry of Gender and Justice; Operation Underground Railroad, a USA-based anti-trafficking organization; and Droplets in a Stream, an Australia charity focused on helping vulnerable children in Kenya and Uganda.
To obtain a copy of APC’s analysis of the child sacrifice issue or to learn more about UCU’s APC, contact Dr. Dickson Kanakulya, APC Senior Researcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.