A petition has been submitted to the Milimani Law Courts seeking to safeguard the rights of elderly individuals who, in recent times, have lost their lives due to accusations of being witches.
Section 6 of the Witchcraft Acts in the Laws of Kenya criminalizes the act of accusing anyone of being a witch unless such a claim is made to a person in authority.
In its court documents, Kituo cha Sheria asserts, “It is widely known that in the Kisii and Kilifi regions of Kenya, there persists a prevalent cultural practice involving witchcraft and superstition, primarily directed at the elderly members of those societies.”
The lobby group references incidents like the killings in December 2022, where elderly women tragically lost their lives.
Kituo cha Sheria notes that the women lost their lives due to actions that lacked substantiation, being based solely on rumors. According to Kituo, none of the perpetrators were arrested by the Inspector General (IG).
They have additionally criticized the Director General of the National Intelligence Service(NIS) for not reviewing any measures taken to gather intelligence on the matter.
Kituo cha Sheria argues that the government has let down innocent elderly women in Kisii and Kilifi counties by not adequately addressing and preventing attacks and killings by members of the public based on unfounded allegations that they are witches.
“It is the duty of the state including that of the county government of Kisii and Kilifi to protect its citizens from external and internal threats. The killing of the elderly is an archaic and medieval practice that has no place in a civilized society,” says Kituo.
According to the court documents, the alleged witches are killed as a means of purifying society from perceived bad omens.
Consequently, Kituo cha Sheria has sought various declarations, including an order for the Attorney General to prepare and present to parliament specific legislation aimed at debating and enacting clear rights and protections for the elderly.
Additionally, a declaration is sought asserting that the respondents collectively committed a crime against humanity through their inaction and tolerance of the killing of elderly women in Kisii and Kilifi counties.
The parties named in the lawsuit include the Director General of the National Intelligence Service, the Attorney General (AG), the Inspector General (IG), the Cabinet Secretary for Interior, and the County Governments of Kisii and Kilifi.