Joint Civil Society Platform on Governance has called for the quick implementation of National Action Plan on persons with albinism that was developed last year in consultation with various stakeholders from the public and private sectors intending to guide national efforts to promote and protect rights of persons with albinism in Malawi.
The legal scholar said one possible example of action is to get involved on enhancing public awareness just as Women Judges Association of Malawi (WOJAM) do by visiting villages to spread security and safety messages.
“This group has talked to communities about security and provided torches, self defence lessons and empowered whistle blowers. Habiba Osman, the civil rights campaigner, has been doing this and in all the districts she has targeted no person living with albinism has disappeared.
“Another suggestion is that these people need protection. We need to have a place of safety where they can go to seek refuge but this needs careful thought because we wouldn’t want them to be sitting ducks in a building without adequate police protection and compromised security.”
“The Action Plan presents prioritized areas of interventions that sectors will have to undertake to realize this cause,” said the then Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Dr. Jean Kalilani in the documents preface.
“Similarly, it intends to inform and guide the Government and all development partners in the allocation of resources and provision of support to ensure that rights of persons with albinism in the country are fully promoted and protected.
“The Action Plan has identified and outlined 7 priority areas to protect and promote rights of persons with albinism in line with other national, regional and international human rights instruments. The identified areas focus on promoting security and protection of persons with albinism, ensuring responsive and inclusive legal and policy frameworks on albinism issues, and ensuring equal access to social services such as health and education.
“Successful implementation of the Action Plan is possible with good collaboration, coordination and involvement of persons with albinism during planning, implementation and monitoring of all interventions.
Meanwhile, as a short term solution to the security threat being faced by persons with Albinism, Malawians living in the UK have formed a committee that is coordinating a fundraising venture to procure and distribute personal alarms to people with Albinism.
A statement from the committee says a household that has a person with Albinism should be equipped with such gadgets so that they themselves or someone in the house can raise the alarm to alert the community in case of an attack.
“Sadly, we have noticed a spike in attacks on people with Albinism again in Malawi, latest being a one-year-old child who we’ve just discovered was murdered after being abducted at night.
“It’s a big shame that in 2019 fellow human beings are living in fear of being killed just because of the colour of their skin. We cannot always look to politicians for solutions. It’s our duty to do our part in protecting these people.
“People with Albinism face so many challenges in Malawi but the most urgent one right now is their safety. We proposed a simple short term solution to the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi and also Habiba Osman, a local human rights activist who is fighting for the rights of people with Albinism and they strongly endorsed this idea and feel it could make a difference,” says the statement distributed on social media.
Commenting on social media, Justin Dzonzi said one of the major challenges about providing meaningful protection to PLAs is to balance the intervention with their human rights.
“Tanzania built special homes for children with albinism but this limited their freedom of movement and community. Some people were opposed to the idea as it practically amounted to quarantine. Suggestions to equip them with alarms or panic buttons are among possible interventions. But these too tend to reduce their quality of life.
“In 2016 at the height of the killings, the UN Special Rapporteur on PLA came into the country and held consultations with MHRC and I had put forth to her the suggestion of a comprehensive investigation at the UN level given that the issue affected at least three countries.
“I did not see anything tangible from there apart from a scathing report which condemned the killings, ridiculed the backward superstitious believes etc. But as the evidence on the ground shows, condemnation is mere hot air, it soon blows off while the practice deepens.
“People have been arrested and some convicted and yet more and more are joining. The story Overstone told of what happened in Dedza recently must inform us that we are not merely dealing with the backward and superstitious, we are dealing with the moneyed and influential forces!” he said.