Chancy Namadzunda –Nyasa Times
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country have said the country has been dead asleep to act on the rising incidences of attacks, abductions, and killings of people with albinism with calls for life imprisonment for people who attack albinos.
The CSOs have further given government a 21 day ultimatum to immediately enforce the registration, monitoring and regulation of traditional healers as a matter of urgency and establish a commission of enquiry to investigate the role being played by those involved in the acts and find the root cause.
Led by the Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA) and Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAPAM) 11 other organizations petitioned Parliament on Tuesday with calls for stronger laws to protect albinos in Malawi from senseless attacks.
“This should include reviewing and amending relevant laws such as the Disability Act, the Witchcraft Act and the Trafficking in persons Act, to include provisions of persons with disabilities and albinism and the repealing or reviewing of the Anatomy Act,” reads part of the petition signed by FEDOMA Executive Council Chairperson Nitta Hanjahanja and APAM President Boniface Massah.
The CSOs have also indicated that the limitations in strategic prosecution by not targeting the buyers and those assisting or contributing to the barbaric acts, the lack of strategic protection to persons with albinism mirroring both informal and formal discrimination and the increased involvement of traditional healers, some businesspeople, relatives, some politicians and some law enforcers in fuelling the abductions and killing of persons with albinism for ritual and similar purposes are of greater concerns.
The petition further said the unduly delays, lengthy periods and questionable banks that apply to the cases involving such killings and attacks within the justice system, the porous borders fuelling human trafficking of persons with albinism between Malawi and neighbouring countries and lack of funding to government department and ministries handling albinism and issues such as health and education should be addressed.
Just like with cashgate cases, the CSOs want government to assist by providing a mechanism of attaching a private lawyer to the prosecution team for cases of albinism killings and attacks and that punishments should be as stiff as life imprisonment or capital punishment.
In an interview, FEDOMA Executive Director Action Amos said members of parliament should sensitise and engage with their constituents and leaders to address discrimination, killings and attacks on people with albinism at community level.
“We would also want government to set aside a fund that should address the education, security and health related rights and needs of persons with albinism,” he said.
Some of the CSOs that are part of the petition include NGO Gender Coordination Network, Citizen Alliance and Civil Society Network on Transparency and Accountability.
Parliament member Ester Jailosi Jolobala received the petition on behalf of the speaker of parliament. She said lawmakers will take swift action.
“You know it is disturbing … when you see perpetrators [released] either due to bail, or maybe lenient judicial sentences,” Jolobala said. “This increases fear in people with albinism here in Malawi.”
Seventeen albinos have been killed in Malawi in the past two years. Few perpetrators are caught.
People with albinism — an absence of pigment in their skin, hair and eyes — are targeted in Malawi and other parts of Africa because of a false belief that potions made from their body parts will bring good luck and wealth.
Malawi has dedicated this week to raising awareness on the issue. The country’s top football league kicked off its “Game Over” campaign.
The league invited albino individuals to a special match and posted banners around the stadium denouncing attacks.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :