LONDON ( Associated Press) – A Scottish lawmaker launched an effort on Thursday to posthumously pardon thousands, mostly women, who had been convicted of witchcraft centuries ago.
Scottish National Party Natalie Dawn has launched consultations on a bill to “correct the historical wrong of witchcraft convicts”. He said he hoped the move would send a message to other countries where those accused of witchcraft are still criminals “that Scotland recognizes that what happened to such people is a humiliating miscarriage of justice.”
Dawn’s proposal follows a formal apology to Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland on International Women’s Day in March, who has been convicted, defamed or executed under the Witchcraft Act of 1563.
By 1736 some 4,000 Scots had been accused of witchcraft under that law.
Of these, 2,500 were executed. Scotland has killed five times more people for witchcraft than anywhere else in Europe, according to Witches in Scotland, a campaign group that is lobbying authorities to offer posthumous justice to the accused.
In her speech, Sturgeon said the victims were “accused and killed because they were poor, isolated, frail or in many cases simply because they were women.” The injustice was “at least partly motivated by misogyny.”
Deen said the move was not just about the past, but she wanted to respond to “patriarchal and gender-based attitudes” and discrimination in Scotland today. “I think that in order to build a fairer, more equal and progressive Scotland, we have to deal with the injustices of the past,” he said.