Malawi rights group pays fines to free elderly ‘witches’

A Malawian rights group said on Tuesday it had paid fines to secure the release of three elderly women sent to prison after being accused of witchcraft, AFP reports.

They were sentenced to one year in prison because they could not pay the 33-dollar fine, a large sum in a country where half of the population of 13-million lives on less than a dollar a day.

The case highlighted concerns over rights violations in Malawi based on allegations of witchcraft. Belief in witchcraft and traditional medicine runs deep in this former British colony, largely dominated by Christians.

Witchcraft is not technically illegal in Malawi but Thindwa’s group has accused police and prosecutors of charging suspected “witches” under laws against causing breaches of the peace.

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