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Children trafficked for sacrifice, says report

Times Online, UK
June 16, 2005
Simon Freeman • Thursday June 16, 2005

A confidential report into the sacrifice and abuse of children at African churches describes how pastors are profiting from the trafficking of black boys into Britain.

Uncircumcised boys are being smuggled into the country for human sacrifice by fundamentalist sects whose members believe that their ritual killing will enhance spells.

The leaked Metropolitan Police report also reveals “countless” examples of children being beaten or killed after being named as witches by spiritual leaders.

In one of many chilling findings, it was suggested that youngsters were smuggled into the UK and given to men with HIV, who believe that having sex with a the child will cleanse them.

The report, obtained by a journalist on BBC’s Today programme, says that pastors and their churches have developed into a network of a lucrative businesses profiting from superstition throughout the UK, Europe and Africa.

It focused on the London boroughs of Newham and Hackney where a wide gulf between child protection agencies and the communities involved was exposed. Police investigations too are frequently met with silence because of fear and mistrust.

The report was commissioned in the aftermath of the Victoria Climbie inquiry and carried out over ten months by social workers, human rights lawyers and race relations experts from within a number of ethnic minority groups

It describes how investigators visited one church group where, it reports: “Members of the workshop said for spells to be powerful it required a sacrifice of a male child unblemished by circumcision.”

Contributors said that boys were being trafficked into the UK for this purpose, but refused to give further details because they would be “dead meat”.

Another passage said: “A number of pastors maintain that God speaks to them and lets them know when someone is possessed … After much debate, they acknowledged that children labelled as possessed are in danger of being beaten by their families.

“However, they would not accept that they played a major role in inciting such violence.”

John Azah, an independent adviser to the Metropolitan Police, said that since the Climbie case and the ritualistic ‘torso murder’ of a black child known only as ‘Adam’, there were concerns the police were only touching the tip of the iceberg.

He told Today: “There was concern that there was very little, if any, intelligence on what is happening to children.”

The report has called for social services departments to determine how many faith organisations exist and where they are situated. It also urged the Met to highlight the work of child protection agencies to try to encourage the reporting of crimes.

Earlier this month three people, including the girl’s aunt, were convicted of trying to “beat the devil out of” the un-named 10-year-old from Angola.

In May it was revealed that 300 black children aged between four to seven had disappeared from school rolls in three months.

Secretary Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said it was important countries worked together to tackle crimes related to people-trafficking.

“But it’s classically an issue, like all people-trafficking issues, where people are being moved across the whole world, essentially for money, by very substantial criminal organisations.”

The Met said the report was drawn up after workshops debating issues such as female genital mutilation, physical chastisement, forced marriage and faith-related child abuse were held. It added: “The recommendations in the report are being carefully considered at the highest levels in the MPS in conjunction with partner agencies and community groups.”

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