'African boys are brought to Britain to be sacrificed'

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African boys are being smuggled into Britain as intended human sacrifices, a report commissioned by the Metropolitan Police has revealed.

African boys are being smuggled into Britain as intended human sacrifices, a report commissioned by the Metropolitan Police has revealed.

The children are brought to London and offered up in blood rituals at the behest of fundamentalist sects to combat evil spirits. Police believe that the boys, considered valuable because they are "unblemished", can be bought for as little as £10 in Africa.

The report into so-called "faith crimes" was commissioned after the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbié, who was starved to death by relatives who thought she was possessed. It was compiled by a social worker and a lawyer with the help of London's African community.

The authors reported claims of witchcraft, spells, and of HIV-positive people having sex with children in attempts to be cured.

The report, which was leaked to the BBC yesterday, said: "People who are desperate will seek out witchcraft experts to cast spells for them. Members of the workshop stated that for a spell to be powerful it required a sacrifice involving a male child unblemished by circumcision.

"They allege that boy children are being trafficked into the UK for this purpose. Specific details were not forthcoming as the belief was that they would be 'dead meat' if we tell you any more."

The report also suggested children are trafficked as domestic and sex slaves.

The authors pointed out they could not test the truth of these allegations but voiced concerns that children could be in life-threatening situations.

The report also highlighted concerns about church pastors identifying children as witches, who then suffer violence at the hands of their parents.

The report says the pastors and their churches have "lucrative business" operations in the UK, Europe and Africa.

It said: "A number of pastors maintain that God speaks to them and lets them know when someone is possessed ... After much debate, they acknowledged that children labelled as possessed are in danger of being beaten by their families. However, they would not accept that they played a major role in inciting such violence."

The report concluded that police encountered a "wall of silence" in investigating such cases.

Last month Scotland Yard disclosed that 300 black boys, aged between four and seven years of age, had vanished from London schools and only two had been traced. Detectives in the capital are investigating about 30 allegations of children being abused in magic rituals.

The potential scale of the problem was exposed by the discovery in the Thames in 2001 of the torso of a four-year-old boy, dubbed Adam. Apparently the victim of an ritual killing, he had been made to eat rock, bone and pieces of gold before he died.

Earlier this month Sita Kisanga, 35, of Hackney, London, was convicted for torturing an Angolan child whom she accused of being a witch. Kisanga was a member of a west African church that sanctions aggressive forms of exorcism.

John Azar, an adviser to the Metropolitan Police, said that known cases could be the "tip of the iceberg". But Dr William Les Henry, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmith's College, said that there was an element of racism to be seen in 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 civilised, less rational, so their whole systems of rationality are irrational."

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that it was important countries worked together to tackle people-trafficking. "People are being moved across the whole world, essentially for money, by very substantial criminal organisations," he warned.