Albinism associations lobby PAP to adopt resolution on albinism action plan

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The ongoing killings and attacks on People with Albinism (PWA) have prompted several organisations to appeal to the Pan African Parliament (PAP) to adopt a resolution endorsing the regional action plan on albinism.

Amnesty International Southern Africa regional director Deprose Muchena has bemoaned the low levels of prosecution of cases involving attacks on people with albinism, the PAP said in a statement.

“In Malawi for example, out of the 122 reported cases, 38 have been prosecuted while 46 are yet to be prosecuted. This is because the 84 cases are being handled by only four senior magistrates,” Muchena said in the statement.

The PAP said the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights had endorsed the plan laying out specific measures for addressing attacks and discrimination against people with albinism through prevention, protection, accountability, as well as equality and non-discrimination measures.

“Albinism is a rare non-contagious genetically inherited condition present among all ethnic groups, but there have been recorded cases of murder, mutilation, digging up of graves of PWA for the cultural beliefs that their skin and bones can create wealth or heal diseases. According to Amnesty International and the United Nations, there had been 600 cases of attacks on PWA reported while many others got unrecorded,” the PAP said.

PAP justice and human rights committee chairwoman Ignatienne Nyirarukundo expressed PAP’s concerns that attacks were escalating in some parts of Africa, blaming it on the lack of awareness by some communities. “We are not in the Middle Ages, we should know better that murder is murder and merits grave punishment,” she said.

Association of People with Albinism in Malawi president Overstone Kondowe said PWA in Southern Africa were experiencing human rights violations of a higher magnitude, including extreme acts of violence and killings.

The highest number of attacks on PWA occurred in Southern Africa, with Malawi registering 136, Mozambique 45, Swaziland 11, South Africa eight, and Zimbabwe two. About 70 percent of the attacks were on women, followed by 23 percent on children.

“It is against this situation that I call upon honourable members of the PAP to urge member states to domesticate the regional action plan on albinism in Africa to address discrimination, killings, and attacks on persons with albinism,” Kondowe said.

The situation was no better in East Africa, where 178 attacks had been documented in Tanzania, 38 in Burundi, 13 in Kenya, and eight in Uganda.

“There is a need to ensure that [the] cross border human trafficking menace is addressed and that African states co-operate on this matter,” Albinism Society of Kenya president Isaac Mwaura told the committee.

“It is important for African governments to take concrete actions aimed at addressing this continued discrimination,” he said.

In West and Central Africa, 149 cases had been reported, with the Democratic Republic of Congo leading with 67, followed by Ivory Coast with 30, and Guinea with 15, the PAP said.