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Policy Proposal for Humanists International: The Problem of Witchcraft Allegations in Africa


Author: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: June 3, 2020

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 813

Keywords: Africa, allegations, policy, problem, Scott Douglas Jacobsen, witchcraft.

Policy Proposal for Humanists International: The Problem of Witchcraft Allegations in Africa[1],[2]

On behalf of Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW), I drafted, finalized, had approved by Dr. Leo Igwe, and sent a policy proposal for consideration by Humanists International’s CEO, Gary McLelland, and President, Andrew Copson. Dr. Leo Igwe and I have been working in founding and administrating a coordinated Africa-wide effort against witchcraft and abuse of alleged witchcraft practitioners. Dr. Igwe for much longer and with the most deserved credit in this regard, for length and depth of efforts. The initiative is called AfAW. Herein, we present a proposal for policy consideration, in spirit, for the World Humanist Congress 2020 for sponsorship by Humanists International. We believe this conforms to either or both stipulations of the “General Statement of Policy” for Humanists International, as follows:

  • a stable policy platform that will express humanist perspectives on particular areas of public policy;
  • statements responding to particular situations for issuing at particular times – e.g. as public statements to media or at international institutions;

In part or as a whole, we believe the statements below conform to these general statements of needing to ‘express a humanist perspective’ and ‘responding to a particular situation for issuing at a particular time’ with the post-colonial and modernizing contexts of the African region. Please find the statements below:

The Problem of Witchcraft Allegations in Africa

Practitioners and non-practitioners of minority supernaturalistic beliefs, i.e., witchcraft, found in Africa continue to endure severe societal abuse throughout the African region from majority religious believers seen in Christians and Muslims.

Humanists International notes the severely negative treatment of witches and alleged witches throughout African societies based on the presumption of ‘supernatural’ forces negatively impacting the interests and lives of the Christians and Muslims within African societies. Unfair treatment comes from government policies. Discrimination and prejudice come from the general religious public. The abuse emerges from an alleged witch’s own guardians or parents, and other authority figures. Human beings in a globalized world remain embedded in international systems governed by a naturalistic ethic, in principle, binding upon all regions, nations, people groups, and individuals, called human rights and international law. Insofar as these should govern institutional policies, these should inform human relations too. Policies adopted by governmental institutions should treat individual persons with equality under the law and due process. In Africa, fundamentalist religion scourges state and regional institutions while burdening individual minds. When scientific or empirical knowledge of the world does not inform the culture or the policies of state institutions, especially law, the consequences can be negative for select members of the society in predictable ways. Witchcraft remains a superstitious and ancient practice within African societies. The charge of witchcraft alongside the abuse of the accused become human rights violations.

We recognise:

  • the abuse of alleged witches violates Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”;
  • Humanism affirms the “worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual,” human rights, social responsibility, and the need “for an alternative to dogmatic religion” and the “maximum possible fulfillment” of every human being, according to the Amsterdam Declaration (2002);
  • the lack for an empirical basis for the claims of supernatural forces or allegations of witchcraft outside of cultural and social practices associated with African witchcraft;
  • and the need to advocate for the rights of alleged witches to prevent the abuse of ordinary Africans from religious fundamentalism’s campaign of abuse against them.

We support:

  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948);
  • the Amsterdam Declaration (2002).
  • organizations, including Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW), working directly on these issues of advocating for the rights and dignity, and autonomy, of alleged witches in the African region to prevent further abuse against them.

Suggested academic reference

‘The Problem of Witchcraft Allegations in Africa’, Humanists International, General Assembly, Miami, United States, 2020

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, In-Sight Publishing.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 3, 2020:

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