A new law criminalizing the act of human sacrifice has been passed by Parliament and will see those involved in the act face death or long prison sentences.
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.
The bill was passed by Parliament on Tuesday, 04 May 2021 at a sitting chaired by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
Atiku said 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.
“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,” he said.
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 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 need for a specific law on human sacrifice that takes cognizance of the unique nature of the offence and provides specific ingredients of the offence which in turn will 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 it sometimes because of primitive cultural beliefs.
“Sometimes these people kills these children to take them to witchdoctors for wealth yet these very witchdoctors have no money,” she said.
Ocan said people should abandon primitive behaviours and seek knowledge from the Bible for intelligence.
The Minister of State for Planning, Hon. David Bahati said it is disheartening to note that human traffickers earn over US$30 billion per year in their trade.
“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 attempting to human traffic, the punishment should be longer than a 10 year sentence.
“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 among others will see a death penalty being imposed on a person who commits the offence where such a person is a parent, guardian or person having authority or control over the victim of the offence or where the act 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 stated in part.
The bill also criminalizes the financing of act of human sacrifice in clause 3.
“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 bill adds.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga said that Parliament has provided an avenue for justice for all the victims, especially children of human sacrifice.