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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Judges and Witches, or How is the State to Deal with Witchcraft? Examples from Southeast Cameroon
Authors:Fisiy, Cyprian F.
Geschiere, PeterISNI
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:Cameroon
criminal law
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Law, Legal Issues, and Human Rights
Politics and Government
External link:https://doi.org/10.3406/cea.1990.1617
Abstract:Since the end of the seventies, the State Courts in the East Province of Cameroon have regularly convicted 'witches'. This is a novelty. Until then, conviction by the State Courts was only possible when there was concrete proof of a physical attack. The main issue in this article is how exactly this new intervention by the Courts occurred. Who took the initiative and which groups are playing a role in it? Witch doctors play a crucial part in the prosecution since only they have the expertise to 'prove' the witches' guilt. In many cases they are allied to the modern elements within the village who start the accusations and it is again the witch doctors who take things to the Courts. There their expertise is indispensable to the judges who need 'proof' of the mystical forms of attack. This collaboration fits in with a broader alliance between the new elite and the witch doctors which has been developing since independence. This paper is based mainly on an analysis of the records of 22 witchcraft trials which came before the 'Cour d'Appel' of Bertoua, the capital of East Province, between August 1982 and December 1984. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French (p. 227).