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Title:Palm tree justice in the Bertoua court of appeal: the witchcraft cases
Author:Fisiy, C.F.ISNI
Series:ASC working paper
City of publisher:Yaoundé
Publisher:Institut des Sciences Humaines
Geographic term:Cameroon
criminal law
External link:http://hdl.handle.net/1887/432
Abstract:This paper examines thirty witchcraft cases reviewed by the Court of Appeal of Bertoua (East Province, Cameroon) during the period 1981-1984. The basic aim is to highlight the nature and sources of witchcraft accusations, the process of securing a conviction (i.e. proof), and finally, the magnitude of punishment meted out on sentencing. These issues are crystallized by a number of questions: Who initiates a witchcraft accusation and under what circumstances is such an accusation initiated? How do the modern courts establish proof in witchcraft accusations? What role does a witch doctor/diviner play in witchcraft proceedings? Are the modern State courts well suited to judge issues whose manifestations are strictly outside the limits of observable phenomena? A close review of the thirty cases shows that witchcraft accusations can be loosely classified into five main groups, according to their sources: village unrest and menace to State institutions; jealousy and hatred; quest for power; mystical cannibalism and irresistible impulses; and malpractices by witch doctors. The review is preceded by a brief survey of the colonial legacy on witchcraft and allied phenomena.