The Disability Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria participated in the roundtable on the development of an integrated plan to protect, promote and uphold the rights of persons with albinism held in Pretoria on 27 and 28 September 2018. The roundtable was hosted by the Department of Social Development (DSD), the department responsible for coordinating national strategies aimed at promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups who are at risk of compounded marginalisation.
The roundtable was government’s response to the upsurge of human rights violations and discrimination of persons with albinism in the country which has included amongst others killings, abductions and desecrations of graves of persons with albinism.
The roundtable brought together 70 key stakeholders actively working on the protection and the promotion of the rights of persons with albinism in South Africa which included civil society organizations, research institutions, Chapter 9 institutions and national and provincial government representatives including Albinism Society of South Africa, Albinism Advocacy on Access Foundation, South Africa Human Rights Commission, Western Cape Albinism And Hypo-Pigment Foundation, South African Police Services, Member of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, South Africa Broadcasting Corporation and Human Rights Media Centre amoungst others.
The objectives of the roundtable was to share and document current advocacy, support and protection initiatives by both government and civil society (organisations and individuals), to track progress with implementation of the resolutions undertaken at the 2013 National Conference on the Rights of Persons with Albinism, to identify and engage on current challenges facing the albinism civil society sector, to establish a task team that will develop a draft national strategy to promote the rights of persons with albinism in South Africa and to establish an inclusive task team to plan and coordinate the 2019 National Conference on the Rights of Persons with Albinism.
The roundtable was chaired by the Honourable Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.The Honourable Deputy Minister in her opening remarks acknowledged the positive contribution made by the participants of the roundtable. She went on to say that part of the impetus of the roundtable was to get a sense of who is working on what and where and see how these different efforts can be channelled towards a common goal.
The Deputy Minister acknowledged the lack of cohesion in the initiatives undertaken by the different stakeholders including the government as a key detractor that has limited the potential of the movement from achieving the objectives of the 2013 National Conference on the Rights of Persons with Albinism and from effective representation of persons with albinism at provincial and local levels. To this end she called on the stakeholders to unite in promoting the rights of persons with albinism. She reiterated her department’s commitment to work with persons with albinism to develop policies and programme that will see their rights protected.
The Centre for Human Rights was represented by Ms Innocentia Mgijima-Konopi and Mr Jehoshaphat Njau. Ms Mgijima-Konopi spoke on the work the Disability Rights Unit has been doing in promoting the rights of persons with albinism, specifically the human rights capacity building workshops for the frontline organisations working to advance the rights of persons with albinism the Centre will be hosting for the next two years. The first was held on 20-22 of August 2018 at the University. Ms Mgijima-Konopi highlighted the importance of these workshops as an empowerment tool that will effectively increase the knowledge and understanding of human rights amongst organisations working to advance the rights of persons with albinism in South Africa and beyond.
Mr Njau spoke on the recently launched online platform of the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa (2017-2021) that the Disability Rights was involved in. Mr Njau highlighted the importance of the online platform as an effective tool in the coordination of initiatives and mobilizing of resources required in the tracking of the progress made in the implementation of the Regional Action Plan.
After an intensive two days of deliberation, a consensus was reached that a further consultative process should be put in place that will see a Working Group established representative of albinism structures from all provinces as well as key individual activists, government and Chapter 9 institutions that will determine the objectives of the proposed 2019 conference as well as the modalities of the drafting of the National Strategy to Promote the rights of Persons with Albinism in South Africa. The Department of Social Development was tasked with facilitating and coordinating this consultative which should be completed before the end of this year.
At the end of the roundtable the department committed to put mechanism in place to report to sector on yearly basis its work on albinism, compile a draft Framework for a National Strategy on Advancing the Rights of Persons with Albinism in South Africa, and set milestones and targets that will go hand in hand with the National Strategy that will be developed by the sector in 2019.
The Centre commends the government of South Africa for holding this roundtable, a historical step in the realization of the rights of persons with albinism.
For more information contact