With joy, we announce that the perpetrators of horrific child sacrifice violence have been
brought to justice. This week, the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kayunga, Uganda has convicted
Kivumbi Awali and Ngaswireki Paul of attempting to murder a 6-year-old boy, Alan Ssembatya.
The judge sentenced them to 40 years in prison.
The conviction is the culmination of years of effort by Ugandan prosecutors, Peter Sewakiryanga
of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, and Regent Law students who have assisted them over the
past nine years.
In 2009, six-year-old Alan was kidnapped on his way home from school. He was later found
severely injured and near death. His kidnappers had taken a machete to his head and removed a
section of his skull. They also castrated him and left him lying in a pool of blood.
What led to the violent attack? Child sacrifice. It is hard to fathom child sacrifice in the 21st
century. But the cruel practice has had a resurgence in Uganda’s recent past. As the economy has
grown, individuals – often business people – have sought out witch doctors to perform sacrificial
rites to bless their economic development efforts. As the linked BBC report notes, those witch
doctors employ child sacrifice. They harvest individual body parts (often facial features and
genitals) or bury children alive. One of Regent’s Center for Global Justice interns working in
Uganda in 2016 was told: “When you see all the development around the city, know that it is
being done on the tops of sacrificed children.”
The path to justice in Alan’s case was by no means straight or easy. The first case against the
attackers faced numerous delays and lasted from 2009 to 2012. While no announcement was
made, it became apparent that the attackers had been acquitted when they returned to the village
as free men.
At that point, Regent students and the Center for Global Justice first got involved. Regent student
Heather Pate (now Houseal) spent the summer of 2013 in Uganda working with Peter
Sewakiryanga, digging into the case to learn what happened and assemble a case file. After years
and numerous requests, Peter finally received a transcript of the court proceedings. Again, Center
for Global Justice students became engaged. In the summer of 2016, Regent intern Debbie
Stieglitz worked with Peter to deeply analyze the transcript. They learned that the first trial judge
had failed to properly handle testimony from Alan. The Discovery of that error permitted a new
case to be filed.
This week, after six more years, the new trial was completed. The attackers have been found
guilty. There is justice for Alan at last!
We praise the God of justice who brought this victory about. We thank our friend Peter
Sewakiryanga and prosecutors in Uganda for their persistence and dedication. And we thank God
that the Center and our students could play a role in caring for Alan and seeing justice done.