Witchcraft bill yet to receive assent

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Five months after Parliament passed the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022, making it a crime to accuse anyone of being a witch, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has failed to sign it into law.

So, technically, there is no such rule that renders referring to someone as a witch a crime.

The Minority, led by Tamale South MP Haruna Iddrisu, contended that the President’s inability to agree to the bill constituted a constitutional violation that should not be tolerated.

“Where a bill passed by Parliament is presented to the President for assent, he shall signify within seven days after refusing to assent to the bill, unless the President has referred the bill to the Council of State under Article 90 of this Constitution.”

“Where the President refuses to assent to a bill, he shall, within 14 days after the refusal: (a) state in a memorandum to the Speaker any specific provisions of the bill that, in his opinion, should be reconsidered by Parliament, including his recommendations for amendments, if any; or (b) inform the Speaker that he has referred the bill to the Council of State for consideration and comment under Article 90 of this Constitution.

“Parliament shall reconsider a bill taking into account the comments made by the President or the Council of State, as the case may be, under clause (8) of this article. (10) Where a bill reconsidered under clause (9) of this article is passed by Parliament by a resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament, the President shall assent to it within 30 days after passing the resolution.”

Current state

However, the president has not offered any official explanation yet, raising the eyebrows of members on the minority side.

In the ensuing debate, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, jumped to the defense of the President by saying that he (the President) had noticed some technical challenges in the bill and had arranged to meet with the Speaker to iron them out before passing it into law.


The Speaker, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, noticed yesterday that the bill, despite being passed by the House, had returned to the Order Paper for discussion.

He then directed that it be removed from the order paper immediately.

The Speaker stated that Parliament is a serious organ that must be taken seriously.

The legislation

The Bill attempted to expressly criminalize witchcraft accusations and the declaration, accusation, naming, or labeling of another person as a witch, as well as other related crimes.

The purpose of the bill is to modify the Criminal Offenses Act of 1960 (Act 29) to make it illegal for anyone to practice as a witch doctor or witch finder.

It was part of a broader policy response to violence and human rights violations stemming from witchcraft accusations.

Unanimous approval

During the debate preceding the bill’s third reading, all Members of Parliament who took part in the debate unanimously urged for the criminalization of all witchcraft acts and accusations, as well as the liquidation of all witch camps in the country.


The measure was introduced in Parliament on March 31, 2023, by Francis Xavier Sosu, Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, on behalf of other co-sponsors.

They were Mr Sosu, Hajia Laadi Ayii Ayamba, MP for Pusiga; Dr. Godfred Seidu Jasaw, MP for Wa East; Helen Adjoa Ntoso, MP for Krachi; and Betty Nana Efua Krosbi Mensah, MP for Afram Plains North.

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