UN Human Rights Council Resolution 47

The United Nations Human Rights Council’s draft resolution 47 entitled “Elimination of harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks” finally, although indirectly only, acknowledges that Witchcraft is not the mischief requiring regulation or prohibition. The draft correctly identifies the true harm requiring remedy; the human rights abuses which flow from accusations of witchcraft.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance is pleased that point 6 of the draft has emphasised that “States should carefully distinguish between harmful practices amounting to human rights violations related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks, and the lawful and legitimate exercise of different kinds of religion or beliefs, in order to preserve the right to freely manifest a religion or a belief, individually or in a community with others, including for persons belonging to religious minorities”.

This clause affirms the right of Witches to freedom of religion. The right to freedom of religion is already a Constitutionally protected right in South African law.

The South African Pagan Rights Alliance will be forwarding the draft resolution to the South African Law Reform Commission, and to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

We trust that international consensus on this issue will persuade the Law Reform Commission to revisit it’s hesitancy to recommend that the Legislature set aside the Witchcraft Suppression Act as clearly inconsistent with both Constitutional and International law.

This Alliance would like to extend its gratitude to Gary Foxcroft, the Executive Director of the Witchcraft & Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), for allowing the South African Pagan Rights Alliance to contribute to this momentous and important achievement as a participating member of WHRIN.