30 Charged in 2009 But Many More Accused, No Convictions Despite Police Taskforce and U.S. Aid
JINJA, Uganda, April 5, 2010
(AP) Caroline Aya was playing in front of her house in January when a neighbor put a cloth over her mouth and fled with her.
A couple of days later, the 8-year-old’s body was found a short walk away - with her tongue cut out. Police believe she was offered up as a human sacrifice in a ritual killing, thought to bring wealth or health.
“If it is a sickness you try to treat it, and if they die that is one thing,” said Caroline’s father, Balluonzima Christ. “But when you slaughter a person like a goat, that is not easy.”
The practice of human sacrifice is on the rise in Uganda, as measured by ritual killings where body parts, often facial features or genitals, are cut off for use in ceremonies. The number of people killed in ritual murders last year rose to a new high of at least 15 children and 14 adults, up from just three cases in 2007, according to police. The informal count is much higher - 154 suspects were arrested last year and 50 taken to court over ritual killings.
Children in particular are common victims, according to a U.S. State Department report released this month. The U.S. spent $500,000 to train 2,000 Ugandan police last year to investigate offenses related to human trafficking, including ritual killings.
The problem is bad enough that last year the police established an Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce. Posters on police station walls show a sinister stranger luring two young girls into a car below bold letters that call on parents to “Prevent Child Sacrifice.”