African governments urged to fight albino killings

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As South Africa marks the end of Human Rights month this weekend, African governments have been urged to tighten laws to prevent the killings and attacks against persons living with albinism.

Recently, the KwaZulu-Natal Albinism Society called on the National Parliament to implement laws to punish those who perpetrate violence, abuse and killings against people living with albinism.

The brutal murder of two children in Mpumalanga believed to be a muti related killings has brought a fresh attention to the plight of persons living with albinism, not on here at home but also across the African continent.

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, especially in east and southern Africa, persons living with albinism have been targeted in ritual attacks and trafficking, due to myths that their body parts can bring good luck and wealth when used in witchcraft practices.

According to the United Nations, in the past decade, over 600 persons with albinism across 28 countries in Africa have been killed, mutilated or traumatised after surviving attacks.

In addition, persons living with albinism have faced prejudice and stigmatisation due to their skin pigmentation.  Last year, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, endorsed the Regional Action Plan on Albinism.

The plan is aimed at preventing and ending attacks against people with albinism by 2021.

An executive at the Malawi based Association of Persons Living with Albinism, human rights organisation, Overstone Kondowe, has revealed shocking statistics about the number of attacks and killings of persons living with albinism in southern Africa.

“Southern African countries are still registering high number of attacks against persons with Albinism. In South Africa, we had 10 cases, Swaziland 11, Uganda 8, Mozambique 45, and Malawi 136 cases of attacks and these cases have been increasing against persons with albinism.”

The Kenyan Member of Parliament, Senator Isaac Mwaura, who is a person living with albinism, has decried lack of action by most African government to prevent the attacks, killings, and trafficking of body parts of victims of these gross human rights violations.

“The situation of persons with albinism has been rout with discrimination and ostracisation. Persons with albinism have been ill-treated and denied their basic human rights. Many of them are killed at birth due to negative beliefs that they are a bad omen to society. They’ve been killed under the belief that our body parts can bring good fortune or cure.”

The Independent Expert on Person Living with Albinism at the United Nations, Ikponwosa Ero, has appealed to members of the Pan African Parliament to play a major role in helping member countries to craft and enforce laws and policies to end harmful practices against persons with albinism.

“Whilst many laws have dealt with the issue of trafficking of organs there has been little attention to trafficking in body parts. It is a gap to be filled and we need you as parliamentarians. Victims of witchcraft practices especially person with albinism are some of those left behind.”

Recommendations of the African Action Plan on Albinism will be endorsed and formally adopted by the Pan African Parliament during the high level plenary session in Midrand in May.

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