The continued attacks perpetrated against persons with albinism on the continent has prompted the Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the office of the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism and several organisations representing persons with albinism to appeal to the Pan-African Parliament to prioritise the rights of persons with albinism on the continent.

The United Nations Independent Expert Ms Ikponwosa Ero spoke at the opening of the meeting with the Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand (via video). She informed parliamentarians that while discrimination against persons with albinism has been reported from across the world from nearly every continent, in Africa, persons with albinism experience not just higher levels of stigmatisation and discrimination but also human rights violations of much higher magnitude, including extreme acts of violence.

Hounarable Isaac Mwaura, a member of the Kenyan Senate with albinism and the coordinator of Albinism Society of Kenya highlighted that the attacks against persons with albinism take the form of killings, mutilations, ritual rape, grave robberies and are driven by errenous beliefs and myths that body parts of persons with albinism when used in rituals bring wealth and good fortune.

To date there has been over 600 killings reported in more than 27 countries in Africa. It is believed that many cases go unreported due to weak monitoring and the involvement of family members. Mr Overstone Kondowe, President of the Association of Persons with albinism in Malawi reported that the majority of victims of the 136 attacks documented in Malawi by civil society are women and children. “The attacks have brought a lot of fear resulting in many persons with albinism withdrawing from social and economic activities in his region.

The situation is compounded by the low conviction rates of perpetrators of these atrocities. Amnesty International Regional Director (Southern Africa) Deprose Muchena commented that in Malawi for instance only 38 of the reported cases have been prosecuted succesfully.

The delegation called upon the Pan-African Parliament to, amongst other measures, adopt a resolution endorsing the Regional Action Plan to prevent and end attacks against persons with albinism by 2021. The plan lays out both immediate short to medium term specific measures for addressing attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism through prevention, protection, accountability as well as equality and non-discrimination measures.

Honourable Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, the Chairperson of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights expressed grave concerns of the attacks against persons with albinism presented before the Committee and agreed that this is a critical issue which needed to be resolved.


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