Boys 'used for human sacrifice'

'Adam' is believed to have been killed in a ritualistic murder
Children are being trafficked into the UK from Africa and used for
human sacrifices, a confidential report for the Metropolitan Police

Children are being beaten and even murdered after being labelled as
witches by pastors, the report leaked to BBC Radio 4's Today
programme said.

Police face a "wall of silence" in investigations because of fear and
mistrust among the groups involved.

It follows the case of a girl tortured by her guardians for being a witch.

Three people, including the girl's aunt, were convicted of trying to
"beat the devil out of" the un-named 10-year-old - originally from

The report was commissioned by the Met after the death of Victoria
Climbie in February 2000 and because of concerns over so-called faith

  For spells to be powerful it required a sacrifice of a male child
unblemished by circumcision

Police report

The 10-month probe was also intended to be part of efforts to "open a
dialogue" with Asian and African communities to prevent child abuse
in the London boroughs of Hackney and Newham.

Information was gathered with the help of social workers, human
rights lawyers and race relations experts from within these ethnic
minority groups.

Today programme reporter Angus Stickler, who obtained the police
report due to be published later this month, described it as
"absolutely chilling".

"The most gruesome details come from the African communities," he said.

"This report talks of rituals, of witchcraft, being practised in
churches in London. It is described as big business."

'Dead meat'

It said that people who are desperate seek out churches to cast
spells for them.

"Members of the workshop said for spells to be powerful it required a
sacrifice of a male child unblemished by circumcision," the report

Contributors said boys were being trafficked into the UK for this
purpose, but did not give details because they said they feared they
would be "dead meat" if they told any more.

  They always seem to base their models on the fact that Africans are
less civilised, less rational

Dr William Les Henry

There were also claims that youngsters were being smuggled into the
UK as domestic slaves and for men with HIV who believed if they had
sex with a child they would be cleansed.

One HIV outreach worker who spoke to the BBC News website said a
small minority of Africans who came to his sessions had begun to
mention this as a possible solution to their problems.

The authors of the report point out that these claims are only allegations.

They also claim that children could be in "serious and possible
life-threatening situations".

  Perhaps there's something terrible happening out there which we are
not aware of

John Azah
Met Police adviser

It is not clear how widespread the practices are within African
communities, but those working with minority groups suggest it is
fairly small-scale.

The report also spoke of a wide gulf between child protection
agencies and those in the communities involved, which means people
are reluctant to get in touch with the authorities.

Police described this as a "wall of silence" prompted by concerns
that individuals would be "betraying" their family, community and
faith if they spoke out.

It also acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue as the abuse was a
product of individuals' faith and beliefs.

Independent adviser to the Met John Azah said that since the Climbie
case and the ritualistic murder of a black child known as "Adam",
there were concerns the police were only touching the "tip of the

  People are being moved across the whole world essentially for money,
by very substantial criminal organisations

Home Secretary Charles Clarke

"A few weeks ago the Met put out a number of 300 black children
missing from schools.

"There's no evidence that any of these children have been traced.

"Therefore perhaps there's something terrible happening out there
which we are not aware of."

This was why the police, quite rightly, were doing quite a lot of
work to see if children were being murdered or not, he added.

But Dr William Les Henry, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmith's
College, said there was an element of racism about the report.

He said: "The model that they're based on, they always seem to base
their models on the fact that Africans are less civilized, less
rational, so their whole systems of rationality are irrational."

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


The Met had a special unit to address these particular issues, he said.

"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 challenge was how could the organisations most effectively be
contested, he said.

Sita Kasanga was one of three people who tortured a girl she believed
to be a witch

The report called for the social services department to determine how
many faith organisations exist and where they are situated.

But Pastor Nims Obunge from the Freedom's Arc Church emphasised that
most African churches were entirely legitimate and overseen within a
wider structure.

"We do not condone any form of cultish practices and I think we need
to define the difference between a cult and a church, that's an
important thing and I'm a bit wary when we use the term 'church' in a
loose fashion."

The report also urged the Met to highlight the work of child
protection agencies to try to encourage the reporting of crimes.

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."