On 16 May 2018 Ms Ikponwosa Ero, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism addressed the Pan Africa Parliament during its Sixth Ordinary Session which ended on 18 May 2018.
Speaking before the continental body on the human rights situation of persons with albinism Ms Ero informed the parliament that earlier that week she had received reports of the kidnapping and brutal murder of a five-year-old girl with albinism from Fana village in Mali. The young girl, Djeneba Diarra was reported to have been sleeping in the courtyard with her mother and her sister who also has albinism when a group of armed men snapped her in the early hours of Sunday on 13 May. Her body was later found beheaded next to the village Mosque by community members.
Ms Ero told parliament that in 2018 alone there have been reports of attacks including murder, mutilation and kidnapping in Benin, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. Other countries with records of attacks include Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.
The root causes for these attacks include erroneous myths and beliefs that the body parts of persons with albinism when used for ritual purposes have potent powers.
She called on the parliament to be a force for change and help put an end to the violence being experience by persons with albinism on the continent. Ms. Ero called on the parliament to endorse the Regional Action Plan on albinism 2017-2021 and create guidelines for states on addressing harmful practices and beliefs related to witchcraft that perpetuate the discrimination and violence against persons with albinism. She is also called for guidelines on combating trafficking of body parts of persons with albinism and measures to deal with the gender dimension of this issue.
Responding to her presentation President Roger Nkodo Dang of the Pan African Parliament said “A severe punishment is the only befitting solution for those who victimise, torture and kill people living with albinism”. This sentiment was widely shared by members of parliament present who felt the parliament needed to urgently adopt a resolution on the issue. President Dang also urged all parliamentarians to make it a habit to speak out against the human rights violations of persons with albinism in their constituencies. The President who told those present that he had a deceased family member with albinism stressed that the parliament needed to play a greater part in making communities conscious that the body parts of persons with albinisms have no special powers when used in ritual portions, albinism is simply a genetic condition.
Ms Ero’s presentation is part of ongoing efforts by her office and the Disability Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights and other civil society organisations working on albinism in the region to lobby the Pan African Parliament to put advancing the rights of persons with albinism in Africa on its agenda.
13 June is International Albinism Awareness Day and The Centre invites those interested in getting involved with advancing the rights of persons with in Africa to please contact:
Research Assistant, Disability Rights Unit
Tel +27 (0) 12 420 6345