Uganda’s legislature has passed a bill criminalising human sacrifice and prescribing a death sentence on conviction for related offences.
Until now, the country’s laws did not provide for the crime of human sacrifice and such wrongdoing have over the years been prosecuted as murder or other offences.
The legislation – the Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifices Bill 2020 – proposes a death sentence for any person convicted of committing human sacrifice or financing the practice.
It also criminalises the possession of human parts, their use in medicine for sale or personal use. A person convicted for the offence faces life imprisonment.
Any person who spreads belief in human sacrifice for financial gain, encourages anyone to use a human body in any ritual, on conviction will also receive a life sentence.
The issue of human sacrifice needed a special section in the law because it was regarded as unique – given that it mostly involved the killing of children and involved their relatives.
Irene Kagoya, an associate director of World Vision in Uganda who was instrumental in getting this into law said the issue was “very common” and “deep-rooted” in society although she noted that statistics were hard to come by because of the nature of the offence.
She told the BBC that the law was necessary so that it could tackle all the parties who were involved in the crime, including financiers and relatives.
“Whether it’s parents, relatives, even those who are lured to give away their children in exchange for money, all those will be brought to book,” she said.
The bill will become law once the president assents to it.