The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and the United Nations (UN) Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism officially launched the Online Platform of the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa (2017-2021) on Tuesday 21 August (available online at www.actiononalbinism.org). The launch featured a cocktail reception and a photo exhibition: ‘Shining Our Light to the World’ by Spanish artist and photojournalist Ana Yturralde. ‘Shining the light to the world’ is an exhibition consisting of realistic and striking depictions of the daily lives and the stories of persons with albinism in Africa.
The main purpose of this Online Platform is to serve as a coordination platform for mobilizing and coordinating resources as well as organizations committed to the implementation of the Regional Action Plan. The Regional Action Plan is the first-ever continental response to the scourge of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism. The Regional Action Plan has been endorsed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Pan-African Parliament in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The Plan is a unique and a concrete initiative to ensure that persons with albinism will not be left behind by ensuring that they receive immediate attention on issues affecting them.
The Platform will serve to do three key things. First, it aims to increase support for and knowledge about the Regional Action Plan. Second, it aims to promote the adoption and implementation through institutional and financial resource mobilization. Third, it will serve to report on progress and best practices in implementing the Regional Action Plan. The Online Platform will therefore present regularly updated and accessible information on the human rights situation of persons with albinism both regionally and by country.
Speaking at the launch, the UN Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, expressed “great optimism that the tool is a promise of peace for persons with albinism who continue to be killed for their body parts in various parts of the continent, amid other serious human rights violations.”
The tool which is open to the general public, and shows how concrete measures of the Regional Action Plan on albinism (2017-2021) are being implemented in several African countries. These include progress on each measure of the plan: from awareness raising to the provision of security measures such reinforcing homes to prevent easy entry by attackers, good practices such as data collection for comprehensive policy implementation and as well as areas where there are gaps and challenges particularly in response to attacks.
Also speaking at the launch of the Platform, Honourable Isaac Mwaura, Senator in Kenya, remarked that, unfortunately, horrendous attacks against persons with albinism continue to be reported in several African countries, too often children with albinism as the victims. Attacks are fueled by myths and witchcraft beliefs deeply rooted in various cultures. Consequently, fear and stigmatization ostracizes most persons with albinism. Their vulnerability to attack is increased by poverty and barriers to education and health, causing high incidence of skin cancer which is the biggest cause of premature death of persons with albinism across the continent.
Ms Ero noted that through www.actiononalbinsim.org, she hopes to continue to work with all stakeholders including government, corporations and non-governmental organisations including those serving persons with albinism such as the Albinism Society of South Africa, to implement the measures identified in the Regional Action Plan. She also emphasised that Actiononalbinism.org will engage with any entity committed to the full implementation of the Regional Action Plan from now until 2021.
The Online Platform is as a result of the collaboration between various organisations, including UNESCO, IOM, OHCHR, the International Bar Association, Opens Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, the Center for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria, all working together with the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism and international, regional and national organizations of persons with albinism
“Together we will restore the peace that was robbed from persons with albinism on the continent in the last decade and more.” Ms Ikponwosa Ero
For more information kindly contact:
Disability Rights Unit: Research Assistant
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 6398
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743