CCJP demands judicial accountability in cases of killings of persons with albinism

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has challenged the Judiciary in Malawi to provide evidence of its commitment and seriousness in trying criminal cases bordering on attacks, abductions and killings of persons with albinism.

CCJP National Coordinator Boniface Chibwana observed that since the onset of persecutions and heinous criminal acts targeting persons with albinism, the courts have handled less than 30 percent of the cases brought before them.

Chibwana made the sentiments in Lilongwe on Tuesday during an engagement CCJP had with members from the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Standing Voice and Human Rights Consultative Committee, among others.

Chibwana–Our courts have been very slow in trying cases involving persons with albinism–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

The Commission facilitated the engagement with funding from the Canadian Embassy through the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).

CCJP, Standing Voice and APAM are jointly implementing a project titled ‘Contributing Towards Effective and Enhanced Protection and Promotion of Rights of Women and Girls with Albinism through Self-Advocacy and Self-Activism in Malawi’.

The project, which is being implemented in Balaka and Mangochi under Mangochi Diocese with national level advocacy and lobbying activities anchored by the CCJP National Office, aims at enhancing and strengthening the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls with albinism by building their self-advocacy and self-activism.

And speaking when he opened the engagement meeting at Riverside Hotel on Wednesday, Chibwana expressed disappointment with the lack of speed in the prosecution of cases involving persons with albinism.

Chibwana (standing) addressing participants to the engagement meeting at Riverside Hotel in Lilongwe on Tuesday–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

“Our courts have been ‘very slow’ in administering justice in these cases despite the fact that they border on human and people’s rights. You can imagine, for instance, that close to three years now, our courts have only tried and concluded two cases, i.e. the MacDonald Masambuka and Kwenda Phiri of Nkhata Bay. After that, there has been dead silence from our courts. That’s why we are now demanding judicial accountability on these cases,” he said.

HRR Board Chairperson Robert James Mkwezalamba proposed the reconstitution of the Presidential Taskforce on Persons with Albinism, saying a taskforce could help in pushing for speedy trials and also receiving updates on the progress of various cases involving persons with albinism.

Standing Voice Executive Director Boniface Massa – who has recently completed his term as Commissioner at the Malawi Human Rights Commission – concurred with Mkwezalamba.

Massa proposed that civil society should engage the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) on the matter.

There was no immediate comment from the Judiciary.

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