The Malawian Civil Society organisations have reported to the United Nations in Geneva the recent trends of attacks on people living with Albinism owhose body parts are prized in black magic, calling for more domestic and international response to end the malpractice which threatens human dignity.
Malawi’s 10,000 albinos are in danger, as witch doctors claim “their limbs make potent ingredients in good luck charms.”
In March, Malawi authorities arrested a man for attempted murder of a 16-year-old albino boy. Another man was arrested when he attempted to kidnap his 11-year-old niece. He told cops someone offered him “$6,500 to kidnap her for use in witchcraft rituals.”
In a statement presented at the pre-session of the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle due in May 2015, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Timothy Mtambo indicated that people living with albinism were living in fear for their lives following the recent attacks targeting the group.
“Just like some other parts of East Africa, Malawi has of late experienced a number of cases of people living with Albinism being abducted for body parts based on superstitious by some ill-advised sections of our society that body parts of people living with Albinism have ritual powers,” said Mtambo.
Mtambo who heads the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabiliatation (CHRR) said the there is fear and panic in people living with Albinism leading to some withdrawing from school and others even afraid to go to work or do business.
Malawi’s Inspector General of Police Lexen Kachama has since instructed police to shoot any “dangerous criminals” caught abducting albino. He asked police to use weapons in proportion to the crime.
Mtambo said the CSOs applaud the Malawi government through President Peter Mutharika for taking lead in condemning the brutal acts, and calling on Malawi Police Service’ swift response to this by ensuring that all culprits are unsparingly brought to book.
“This is a positive starting point towards a lasting solution to this ‘evil’ which remains a serious human rights violation deserving robust reaction. We also applaud the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for echoing voices of condemnation of this malpractice,” he said.
Mtambo then called on for more intensified domestic and international response to bring to an end to ‘the act and ensuring maximum protection and promotion of the rights of people living with albinism, just like any other human being deserving such’.
“We recommend to the state party that it should develop and implement measures to ensure full protection of the rights of people living with albinism who are currently living in fear and raise awareness of their rights as a way of fighting against any prevailing misconceptions. We also call upon prosecution of perpetrators” said Mtambo.
Also constituting Malawi Civil Society organisations delegation at this forum are Chrispin Sibande, national coordinator of Coalition on Prevention of Unsafe Abortions (Copua), and Gift Trapence, executive director of Centre for Development of People (Cedep), who, besides Mtambo, made their statements on Human Rights situation in Malawi to representatives of missions as part of the Universal Periodic review, which Malawi will undergo in May.
The Malawi government is due to undergo the review by 193 countries under the UN in May this year and report back on recommendations which the member states made in 2010. In 2010, 36 countries made recommendations to Malawi on broad human rights issues such as child rights, women’s rights, sexual minority rights, extrajudicial killings and media freedom among others.
Meanwhile, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati has promised to ensure that all cases of abduction of people living with albinism are appealed and reviewed to ensure that justice is done.
Kaliati made the assurance at Nayuchi in Machinga East during a community meeting on albinism earlier this week.
A Second Grade Magistrate Court in Liwonde recently sentenced a 39 years old Sinoya Wyson to two years imprisonment for abducting an 11 year old girl with albinism in January.
Wyson abducted the girl at night at Saiti village at Traditional Authority Chikweo and was later dumped at Nampeya, a few kilometers away from her home.
“All the cases will be revisited,” Kaliati assured the gathering at Ekhama School where a two year old abducted but found girl with albinism was present in the company of her mother and two of her siblings also living with albinism.
She said there was a special judge to rehear the cases. The assurance received applauses and nods.
In a related development, police in the district have arrested three people at Namanja Traditional Authority Mchinguza for being found with three human bones which they were selling at K12 million.
Albinism is a congenital disorder which affects about one in 20,000 people worldwide, according to medical authorities.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :