Statistics from the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation as well Centre for Development o People (Cedep) show that up to 46 people were killed in 2019 following accusations of witchcraft.
Speaking during an orientation meeting for magistrates, prosecutors and investigators in the Northern Region in Mzuzu on Tuesday, CHRR acting executive director Michael Kaiyatsa said the problem is worsened with delays in access to justice.
He said the three cadres were key in the protection and ensuring justice for vulnerable groups-including persons with albinism, older persons and sexual and gender minorities.
CHRR and Cedep are currently implementing a project to help address cases of violence against the three groups with support from the Norwegian Government.
Said Kaiyatsa: “We have lost over 25 people with albinism and 46 to witchcraft accusations in 2019 alone.
“Cases are dragging due to lack of capacity among investigators and prosecutors. We don’t see people being tried and punished. “
Karonga first grade magistrate Julius Kalambo said delays in determination of cases emanate from pressure of work.
He said: “Sometimes the magistrate is not available, or prosecutors do not bring witnesses in time. We have been equipped, and we will prioritise them.”
Nkhata Bay Police prosecutor Pleasant Sichali said delays in investigations are a result of inadequate resources, but also difficulties in getting information from community members particularly on cases involving mob justice.
He said: “Inadequate resources hinder us from speedy investigations and prosecutions. Whenever we have cases, getting witnesses has been a challenge as well as people who know suspects are not willing to report them. This makes it difficult for police to get information on perpetrators.”
Section 8 of the Witchcraft Act (1968) declares illegal the profession or calling of witch finder or witch-doctor or of professional maker or mixer of poison; and every person exercising or pretending to exercise such calling or profession shall be guilty of felony and shall be liable to imprisonment for life.