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Campaigners make a plea for Malawi ‘witches’ freedom

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The majority of the eighty people recently jailed in Malawi for practising witchcraft are elderly women, BBC News reports.

George Thindwa from the Association of Secular Humanism has said, however, that the convictions were illegal as there is no law against witchcraft.

He said the problem was that many officials were “witchcraft believers”. The justice minister disputed the allegations, saying the justice system was “reputable”.

BBC’s Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre says the widespread belief in witchcraft led the government to set up a committee last year to consider criminalising it.  Under the law as it stands, it is illegal to accuse someone of being a witch.

The public prosecutions office told the BBC that there had been 11 cases brought under the witchcraft act in the last month across the country.

According to their records, this led to the conviction of 61 elderly women, seven elderly men and 18 younger relatives of the other accused. They received sentences of between four and six years in prison for practising witchcraft.

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