People believed to be witches have been killed in many parts of Africa since precolonial times. Belief in witchcraft persists today among many people, occasionally resulting in the killing of the suspected witch. The killer views witchcraft as an attack similar in nature to the use of physical force and therefore kills the witch in an attempt to end the perceived attack. As it stands today, the law in Uganda fails to strike a balance between the rights of the deceased victim violated through murder and those of the accused who honestly believes that he or she or a loved one was a victim of witchcraft. This article argues that the defenses that are currently available—mistake of fact, self-defense, insanity, and provocation by witchcraft—are insufficient, as they fail to strike that delicate balance. A more pragmatic approach to the issue of witch-killing, one that deals with the elimination of belief in witchcraft, is necessary.
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