The killings, kidnappings, and physical attacks against people with albinism continued, despite government efforts to stop the violence, including several arrests. In Mozambique and some neighboring countries, people with albinism are hunted for their body parts, which are used for witchcraft.
In March 2017, the United Nations independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, told the UN Human Rights Council that the situation of people with albinism in Mozambique “requires urgent and immediate attention.” She estimated that more than 100 attacks against people with albinism had occurred in Mozambique since 2014. Many of the victims are children. In September 2017, according to the police, a 17-year-old boy with albinism was killed and his brain removed, in Tete province. Four months earlier, police uncovered an attempt by two parents to sell their child with albinism in the same province. In June, the Malawian press reported that a 12-year-old Malawian boy with albinism had been killed in Mozambique, and police had arrested five people allegedly connected with the crime.
A 10-year-old albino boy was reportedly kidnapped from his home in the early hours of Monday in northern Mozambique.
According to BBC, the boy’s father, Pires Ernesto, alleged that the kidnappers dug a hole in the wall of his house in the city of Lichinga in Niassa province and went straight to the bedroom where his four children were sleeping.
Ernesto said that only his albino son was abducted.
Police said the matter was under investigation.
A report by AFP said that albinos in Mozambique were often hunted for their body parts, which were used as charms and magical potions in the belief that they brought wealth and good luck.
More than 100 attacks against albinos in Mozambique have been reported since 2014, according to the United Nations. (bold letter type and italics added by the webmaster FVDK)
Related article: How an albino boy was snatched from his bedroom in Niassa, Mozambique
Published: July 11, 2018 By DW (Deutsche Welle)
A 10-year-old albino child was abducted at dawn on Monday (July 9) at his parents’ residence in the city of Lichinga. This is the first abduction of an albino this year in Niassa. The case is already in the hands of the criminal investigation police SERNIC.
Just after the country had reported a year free of abductions or murder of albinos, kidnappers infiltrated the boy’s home through a hole in the wall of the room where the child slept with his siblings.
Pires Ernesto, father of the minor, who was working on a night shift at the time of the abduction, sadly told DW :” My brother Carlito called to tell me that my son had disappeared , when I asked him how it happened, he said they had made a hole in the wall and had taken the child out of the room, and said that they were informing the neighbours about what happened, and when I returned to the house at 1 a.m. I did not actually find the child. ”
According to BBC, Pires Ernesto, alleged that the kidnappers dug a hole in the wall of his house in the city of Lichinga in Niassa province and went straight to the bedroom where his four children were sleeping. Ernesto said that only his albino son was abducted.
The kidnapping of albinos that have occurred in Mozambique are mostly related to superstitious beliefs. It is believed that certain body parts of albinos possess magic powers and, because of this, many end up being killed or mutilated.
Resurgence of abduction causes concern
Trindade Guilherme, a representative of the association ‘Amor à Vida’ [Love of Life] in Niassa province, views the re-occurrence of albino kidnappings as a great concern and calls upon the authorities to be swifter in investigations so that the perpetrators are found and punished.
“It is sad, that there were a lot of kidnappings in the past and suddenly it was over, but this morning in the ‘Niassa I’ neighbourhood there was a kidnapping and we became worried again. We ask the police to re-double their investigative efforts so that we can live with more tranquility, ” he says.
After the incident was reported to the police by the minor’s relatives, the authorities went to the scene, said Alves Mate, a spokesman for the Niassa corporation. He assured that the police are investigating the matter, but did not give further details.
The spokesman for the police in Niassa said:”As soon as the police received the information about this incident, the utmost attention was paid to the case and it was immediately referred to SERNIC (National Criminal Investigation Service), since this is a matter that is not only for the responsibility of the PRM”,
Alves Mate reminded us that “the investigations take a while but, at this moment, our police are already working together with SERNIC to solve this abduction case.”
In Mozambique, there are laws to protect people with albinism. However, authorities often fail to catch the kidnappers. There are few cases reported to the police and, on the other hand, police does not have all the necessary resources to hunt down the criminals.
Portuguese version: Moçambique: Recomeçam ações contra albinos no Niassa
Autoria Manuel David (Lichinga)
Uma criança albina foi raptada na madrugada desta segunda-feira (09.07.) na residência dos seus pais na cidade de Lichinga. Trata-se do primeiro rapto de um albino este ano no Niassa. O caso já está nas mãos do SERNIC.
Pouco depois de o país assinalar um ano sem raptos ou assassinatos de albinos, raptores infiltraram-se na casa dos pais do menino por um buraco feito na parede do quarto onde o menor dormia juntamente com outros irmãos.
Triste, Pires Ernesto, pai do menor, conta: “Quando cheguei do serviço, por volta de uma hora, o meu irmão Carlito chamou-me para me dizer que o meu filho tinha desaparecido e perguntei-lhe como é que isso tinha acontecido, pelo que me respondeu furaram a parede e tiraram a criança do quarto. Disse ainda que estavam a informar aos vizinhos [sobre o sucedido]. Quando regressei à casa na verdade não encontrei a criança”.
De recordar que os raptos de albinos que têm ocorrido em Moçambique estão na sua maioria relacionados com superstições. Acredita-se que determinadas partes do corpo dos albinos possuem poderes mágicos e por causa disso muitos acabam por ser mortos ou mutilados.
Ressurgimento de raptos causa preocupação
Trindade Guilherme, representante da associação Amor à Vida na província do Niassa, encara o ressurgimento dos raptos de albinos com uma grande preocupação e apela as autoridades para serem mais céleres nas investigações para que os autores sejam encontrados e punidos.
“É triste, anteriormente ocorriam muitos raptos e de repente tudo acabou. Já pensávamos que situações do género tinham acabado definitivamente. Mas esta manhã no Bairro de Niassa I houve um rapto e voltamos a ficar preocupados. Pedimos a polícia para que redobre os esforços de investigação para que se possa viver com mais tranquilidade”, lamenta.
Depois da ocorrência comunicada à polícia pelos familiares do menor, as autoridades deslocaram-se ao local como disse Alves Mate, porta-voz da corporação Niassa. Ele garantiu que a polícia está a investigar o assunto, mas não avançou detalhes.
“Logo que a Polícia recebeu a informação sobre esta ocorrência dedicou a máxima atenção ao caso que foi imediatamente encaminhado para o SERNIC (Serviço Nacional de Investigação Criminal), visto tratar-se de um assunto que não é da competência da Polícia”, esclarece o porta-voz da Polícia em Niassa.
Alves Mate lembra que “a investigação demora um certo tempo, mas neste momento a nossa Polícia já está a trabalhar juntamente com o SERNIC para desvendar mais este rapto.”
Em Moçambique, há leis que protegem as pessoas com albinismo. Mas, muitas vezes, as autoridades não conseguem apanhar os raptores. Por um lado, há poucas denúncias e faltam meios à Polícia.
LEIA MAIS (= Read more)
Moçambique não regista há um ano casos de rapto ou assassinato de albinos
Dia Internacional para a Consciencialização do Albinismo, uma data instituída pelas Nações Unidas, celebrada este ano (13.06) sob o lema “brilhando a nossa luz para o Mundo”. (13.06.2018)
Moçambique: 4 anos depois, rapto de albino continua por esclarecer
Família de albino raptado há quatro anos queixa-se da inércia das autoridades na resolução do caso. Polícia diz que a investigação está agora nas mãos da Procuradoria. (06.06.2018)
Albinos beneficiam de consultas oftalmolóicas gratuitas, em Moçambique
Cerca de 100 albinos participaram de uma campanha para melhorar a visão e sensibilizar sobre os cuidados com os olhos. Ação foi encerrada este domingo (10.09), em Maputo. (10.09.2017)
Anistia Internacional denuncia nova onda de ataques a albinos no Malawi
Malawi registou nova onda de assassinatos e ataques dirigidos a pessoas com albinismo nos últimos meses, apoiados por um sistema judicial deficiente, denunciou a Amnistia Internacional (13.06.2017)
Published: May 3, 2019 By: Reuters – reporting by Frank Phiri; editing by Alison Williams
BLANTYRE (Reuters) – A man was sentenced to death in Malawi on Friday for killing an albino teenager in a case has become a campaign issue ahead of a national election this month, with the opposition accusing the government of inaction.
Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, fuelling ritual killings particularly targeting people with albinism because of the belief that their body parts can increase wealth.
In the first such punishment for the abduction and killing of people with albinism, Justice Mclean Kamwambe said he wanted to send a stern warning to would-be offenders.
“The death sentence is appropriate as it reflects a sense of justice in the circumstances,” he said at Malawi’s High Court.
The judge said the killings and abductions of albinos since 2014 had tainted the international image of Malawi, and had reduced the country to “a state of terror”.
The focus on albino murders has sparked finger-pointing amongst politicians ahead of the election on May, 21 with the main opposition party, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), accusing government of doing little to stop the killings.
The government, which formed a judicial inquiry into the killings and abductions, has denied this saying it cannot interfere in work of the police and courts.
The government has also offered cash rewards for information about the abductions and killings, which have reached at least 150 since 2014 according to the United Nations.
According to the court’s ruling, the convicted 28-year-old confessed to the murder and said he wanted to use the 19-year-old victims’ body parts to become rich on instructions from a witch-doctor in neighboring Mozambique.
The superstitions, stigmas and maiming and killing of people with albinism is visible across a number of southern and East African countries with cases reported in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa with a lucrative market for the trade in albino body parts, in the region and internationally.
This report is a follow-up to the 2016 report “We are not animals to be hunted or sold’”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism” and is based on visits conducted in 2017 as well as follow-up interviews and desktop research.
Published: 2018 By: Amnesty International
End violence against people with albinism in Malawi – Towards effective criminal justice for people with albinism in Malawi
Violence against people with albinism in Malawi decreased soon after Amnesty International published its 2016 report “We are not animals to be hunted or sold’”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism.
However, since the report was published in 2016, there was a resurgence in attacks, with four more people with albinism being killed in Malawi since January 2017. That report recorded 69 cases involving crimes related to people with albinism, comprising 18 cases of people killed, five abducted and missing, between November 2014 and May 2016. In February 2018, a joint report by the Malawi Police Service and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs revealed that the number of reported crimes had increased to 148, including 14 cases of murder and seven attempted murders since November 2014 (note 1).
In May and June 2017, an Amnesty International delegation visited Malawi and met with civil society, victims and government officials from the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the national prosecuting authority, the Chief Justice and other members of the judiciary and the police.
This briefing is a follow-up to the 2016 report and is based on visits conducted in 2017 as well as follow-up interviews and desktop research. The briefing focuses on the current resurgence in attacks against people with albinism, stemming from an atmosphere of prejudice and a lack of understanding of the condition. The problem is exacerbated by inadequate resources to deal with crime, leading to a culture of impunity. The briefing analyses the causes of recurring attacks and the government’s response, and identifies gaps in the criminal justice system.
It also assesses the progress made in Malawi towards the protection of the right to life and security of people with albinism.
The UN noted that from 2000 to 2013 it had received 200 reports of ritual attacks on people with albinism across 15 African countries (note 2). Since November 2014, however, an unprecedented wave of killings and other human rights abuses including abductions and robberies against people with albinism has swept through Malawi. Similar attacks have occurred in neighboring Mozambique. People are targeted for their body parts in the belief that they contain magical powers. The current population of people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at between 7,000 and 10,000, representing a ratio of 1 in every 1800 persons (note 3).
Between June and December 2016, Malawi experienced a seven-month respite from attacks and killings, believed to be because of awareness brought by the launch of the Amnesty report, the public condemnation of the attacks by President Mutharika and other senior government officials. This was broken in January 2017 when Madalitso Pensulo, a teenage boy with albinism, was killed in Mlonda village under the Nsabwe Traditional Authority in Thyolo District. In February 2017, Mercy Zainabu Banda, a 31-year-old woman with albinism was found murdered in Lilongwe with her wrist, right breast and hair removed. Two brothers were stabbed in Nsanje in March 2017, amid several attempted abductions or killings. Cases of verbal insults, threats and robbery of graves containing the remains of persons with albinism have also been recorded. Women and children with albinism are particularly vulnerable to abductions and killings by criminal gangs because they are seen as easy targets. According to the UN, suspected perpetrators operating as gangs or individuals can gain up to US$75,000 for the sale of a full set of body parts (note 4).
Note 1: Joint Docket Tracing Exercise Report for Cases of Persons with Albinism in Malawi. This is a Joint report by the Malawi Police Service, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. It was funded by the UNDP with technical assistance from UNICEF.
Note 2: www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/…/A_HRC _24_57_ENG.doc Report on Albinism, UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, 2013
Note 3: Amnesty International, ‘We are not animals to be hunted or sold’: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism (Index: AFR 34/4126/2016)
Amnesty International has been particularly active in exposing the atrocities taking place in Malawi whereby people with albinism are attacked, mutilated and/or killed by ruthless criminals. Much has already been said about the reasons for these attacks – see previous publications – so I won’t repeat this. Moreover, you can read about it in this 2016 publication of Amnesty International reproduced below.
Amnesty International’s cry for justice and to stop the killings of albinos in Malawi was accompanied by a number of examples. Warning: details of these revelations may be experienced as shocking. (Webmaster FVDK)
Published: June 2016 By: Amnesty International
Amnesty International report:
THE BLOODIEST MONTH WAS APRIL 2016 WHEN FOUR PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM, INCLUDING A 2-YEAR-OLD BABY, WERE MURDERED.
There has been a surge in killings of people with albinism in Malawi.
In the southern African country, it is estimated that between 7000-10000 people live with albinism, a rare genetic condition present from birth that results in a lack of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair.
Attacks increased sharply last year. At least 18 people have been killed for albinism in Malawi since November 2014; five others have disappeared without a trace in that time.
45 incidents were reported last year alone – of murders and attempted murders, abductions and attempted abductions – although the real figure could be much higher, due to the fact that secretive rituals in rural areas are rarely reported. There is also no systematic documentation of crimes against people with albinism in Malawi.
People with albinism are living in fear
The safe spaces so many of us take for granted – homes and schools – are no sanctuaries. Family members are often involved in the murders and abductions. With the number of attacks on the increase, children are kept away from schools because the journeys there and back are treacherous.
Even after death, their bodies are subjected to grave robberies. Their bones are stolen and sold for use in witchcraft.
There are other challenges faced by people with albinism in Malawi. People with albinism in rural communities (and their families/carers) are seldom given adequate information on the condition, and how to prevent dangerous sun damage. Because of a lack of melanin, people with albinism are sensitive to sunlight, but they are not given access to sunscreens that would make it easier for people with albinism to live normal lives.
David Fletcher, a teenager with albinism, had gone to watch a football match at Tete football ground in Nambirikira village on 24 April when he went missing. On 2 May, police confirmed that David’s body had been found in Mozambique with his hands and feet chopped off.
David was last seen in the company of a colleague who disappeared along with him, who is still missing.
David was reportedly sold to a traditional healer in Mozambique. Two men were arrested in connection with his murder.
WE ARE NOT ANIMALS TO BE HUNTED OR SOLD Read the report (published on this site on April 8, 2019)
Since November 2014, Malawi has seen a sharp increase in human rights abuses against people with albinism, including abductions, killings and grave robberies by individuals and criminal gangs. People with albinism are being targeted for their body parts by those who believe that they contain magical powers and bring good luck. This report focuses on the lived experiences of people with albinism in Malawi in the context of superstition-driven attacks against them and the corresponding government failure to protect the right to life for this vulnerable group and to guarantee their right to security of person.
Amnesty International believes that the actual number of people with albinism killed is likely to be much higher due to the fact that many secretive rituals in rural areas are never reported. There is also no systematic documentation of crimes against people with albinism in Malawi.
Baby Whitney taken from her home
Two-year-old Whitney Chilumpha disappeared on the night of 3 April from her home in Chiziya village, Kasungu District. Whitney’s mum alerted the neighbours and they set about searching for the toddler, but Whitney was nowhere to be seen. The mother reported her missing daughter to the police.
On 15 April, baby Whitney’s skull, teeth and the clothes she had been wearing were discovered in a nearby village.
Police are keeping Whitney’s father and another man in custody over her disappearance and murder.
Interview with a mother of a child with albinism, 2016
“When I visited my husband’s village with my child for the first time people called my daughter names. They said she looked like a doll. At work when some colleagues heard that I had a child with albinism they said I now have ‘money’.”
Nine-year old Harry snatched from his home
Harry Mokoshini was abducted on the night of 26 February when a gang of men broke into the family home in Moto Village, Machinga district. They took Harry from his mother, threatening and injuring her as they kidnapped her son before her eyes.
Police found Harry’s severed head in a neighbouring village on 3 March.
Harry’s uncle has since been arrested in connection with the boy’s abduction and murder, along with another man who has an existing conviction for possessing the bones of someone with albinism. He had been fined the equivalent of $30 USD for the crime in 2015.
In 2016 Amnesty International published a devastating report on violence and discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi entitled “We are not animals to be hunted or sold’. The title speaks for itself. The reports starts with chapters on Methodology; Background & Context; Legal Framework, and contains informative – and at times shocking – chapters on Discriminatory attitudes in Malawian Society; Attacks, Abductions and Killings of People with Albinism; Other Human Rights Violations and Abuses Experienced by People with Albinism; Violation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Responses to Violations against People with Albinism. The last two chapters are on Conclusions and Recommendations.
The report’s Executive Summary is being presented below. Amnesty International must be congratulated for this thorough analysis of the situation of people with albinism in Malawi. At least, one can no longer say: ‘We didn’t know this happened’. What we need now is ‘action‘. We will judge the government of Malawi on its deeds, not its words. To be followed. (Webmaster FVFK)
“WE ARE NOT ANIMALS TO BE HUNTED OR SOLD” 2016 Amnesty International Report on Violence and Discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi
Since November 2014, Malawi has seen a sharp increase in human rights abuses against people with albinism, including abductions, killings and grave robberies by individuals and criminal gangs. At least 18 (note 1) people have been killed and at least five have been abducted and remain missing. According to the Malawi Police Service, at least 69 cases involving crimes related to people with albinism have been reported since November 2014 (note 2).
People with albinism are being targeted for their body parts by those who believe that they contain magical powers and bring good luck. As a result, Malawi’s 7,000 to 10,000 people with albinism live in fear of losing their lives to criminal gangs who, in some instances, include close family members.
This report focuses on the lived experiences of people with albinism in Malawi in the context of superstition-driven attacks against them and the corresponding government failure to protect the right to life for this vulnerable group and to guarantee their right to security of person. Although the attacks are being committed by criminal gangs and by individuals, the Government of Malawi has an obligation under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure safety for all people in Malawi, including vulnerable groups such as people with albinism.
Women and children with albinism are particularly vulnerable to abductions and killings by criminal gangs, who see them as easier targets. Women also face the danger of rape and sexual abuse as a result of beliefs that having sex with a person with albinism will cure HIV/AIDS.
Senior government officials, including the President, have publicly condemned the attacks against people with albinism and announced a number of measures, including the appointment of a special legal counsel to assist with investigations and the adoption of a National Response Plan. However, these measures have failed to stop the violence. Some perpetrators have been arrested, charged and convicted, but the majority of crimes remain unresolved. Charges and penalties often have not been commensurate with the gravity of the crimes, creating a sense of impunity.
Amnesty International believes that some of the crimes against people with albinism, especially grave robberies, might have been opportunistic and driven by greed, fuelled by rumours that vast sums can be made by selling the bones of a person with albinism. Activists told Amnesty International that poverty and low literacy levels can drive some people to rob graves. These are the people who largely get arrested after being reported by the people they approached believing that they are buyers. There is a widely-held belief that business people are successful because they use magic.
The Malawi Police Service lacks the capacity to carry out thorough investigations, leading to frustration in communities which creates a risk for mob violence. Poor police investigations may also have allowed perpetrators of murders to avoid facing serious charges, particularly in cases where suspects were arrested in possession of human bones. Amnesty International believes that some suspects charged in 2015 with “possession of human bones” – because police assumed that they had been obtained through grave robberies – may have been involved in the actual killings. Amnesty International urges the government to seek, 2015 with “possession of human bones” – because police assumed that they had been obtained through grave robberies – may have been involved in the actual killings. Amnesty International urges the government to seek, as a matter of urgency, international support to conduct investigations, including specialist support for forensic testing and combating human trafficking, in order to bring perpetrators of these gross human rights abuses to justice; in accordance with its regional and international human rights obligations. The police must revisit all cases of suspected grave robberies with a view to establishing the exact source of the human bones.
The identity and motivation of the perpetrators of violence against people with albinism needs to be better understood by Malawi law enforcement agents in order to develop appropriate strategies to counter these crimes. Combatting the widespread mythology surrounding albinism and exposing the public to the fate of people who have committed murder in the hope of selling body parts, must be part of any strategy to stop opportunistic crimes within the community. However, identifying and stopping criminal gangs will require a different approach, including tracing and identifying the source of demand for the body parts of people with albinism and cooperation with neighbouring countries where there is reason to believe people or body parts are being trafficked across borders.
Societal attitudes about albinism are not changing and people with albinism continue to be at risk of attacks. Some victims are abducted and sold by close family members. Violence against people with albinism, including abductions and killings, appeared to be intensifying during the time Amnesty International was compiling the report in 2016.
Beyond the current violence, Amnesty International established that people with albinism experience intersectional human rights violations and abuses based on gender, disability and colour. Their economic, social and cultural rights are equally compromised in debilitating ways. Most specifically, societal ignorance about albinism has contributed to exclusion, stigmatization and denial of basic rights such as the right to education and health. The killings and abductions have exposed centuries-old problems of discrimination against people with albinism.
Societal misunderstanding of albinism in Malawi has endangered the lives of this population group; it has created insecurity and widespread discrimination. In everyday life people with albinism are frequently treated as less than human. They face stigmatization and other insurmountable barriers to the full enjoyment of their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. They also face significant barriers to their participation as equal members of society.
In order to address the root cause of the problem, Amnesty International is urging the Government of Malawi to raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with albinism, and to foster respect for their rights and dignity.
Amnesty International is also urging the Malawian government to increase awareness of public health interventions for albinism in order to better address the medical, psychological and social needs of this vulnerable group. The government must provide affordable (or free) sunscreen to people with albinism at all government health facilities and distribute them through community health centres.
The government must also create a conducive learning environment for people with albinism and other disabilities, including by providing learning devices like magnifying glasses, bigger font size in textbooks and other reading materials; sensitize teachers and school administrations about the needs for learners with albinism and adopt measures to end bullying in schools.
Note 1: Amnesty International’s figures are based on cases that the organization was able to verify. The number of the actual killings is probably higher. The major challenge to getting the exact figure of victims is the absence of systematic documentation of attacks.
Note 2: Data made available to Amnesty International by the Malawi Police Service on 11 April 2016.
On more than one occasion I have drawn attention to ritual murders and other human rights violations in Malawi, notably the attacks on people with albinism by unscrupulous individuals who mutilate or even kill their fellow-Malawians for private gain, wealth, power and/or prestige. In Malawi, persons with albinism are facing these dangers today, but the problem has a long history in the country (in fact, not only in Malawi but also in other countries in Southern Africa, even beyond the region, but this is not the proper place to dwell on this topic). There have been numerous cases of attacks on albinos in the recent past as wel as in the more distant past. In 2016 a United Nations expert on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, herself an albino, warned that the situation in Malawi constitutes an emergency. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved since her warning, as recent attacks and murder cases amply demonstrate. Read below what Ikponwosa Ero said in 2016. (Webmaster FVDK)
UN: People with albinism in Malawi face ‘total extinction’
Published: April 29, 2016 By: BBC
Malawi’s estimated 10,000 albinos face “extinction” if they continue to be murdered for their body parts for use in witchcraft, a UN expert has warned.
Ikponwosa Ero said that the situation “constitutes an emergency, a crisis disturbing in its proportions”.
Her call came after two men received a 17-year jail term for murdering a 21-year-old woman with albinism.
Ms Ero said Malawi police have recorded 65 attacks, abductions and murders of albinos since the end of 2014.
Albinos were targeted because of beliefs that their body parts “can increase wealth, make businesses prosper or facilitate employment”, said Ms Ero, the UN human rights council’s expert on albinism.
“Even in death, they do not rest in peace as their remains are robbed from graveyards,” she added.
Ms Ero, herself an albino, said there are economic motivations.
“Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries and the sale of body parts of persons with albinism is believed to be very lucrative.”
People with albinism, who lack pigment in their skin and appear pale, are regularly killed in several African countries including Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Whereas the criminal practice of ritualistic murders is a revolting and sad one, another phenomenon also draws our attention. Both phenomena relate to superstition. Of course I know that fearing witches or, rather, fearing persons who people believe are possessed by an evil spirit or are thought to be witches is a universal superstition that can be found on all continents of the globe. Moreover, I certainly do not want to stigmatize a particular group of people or race. However, the focus of this website being on ritualistic practices notably ritual murders in Africa, I cannot ignore the occurrence of ritualistic murders committed by Africans that take place outside the continent. For this reason I drew attention to the high profile case of the torso of a small black boy (‘Adam’) that was found floating in the river Thames in 2001. It proved to be a case of ritualistic murder, very likely committed by persons originating from West Africa. Unfortunately, also reports exist of ritual practices – even killings – of persons of African descent in other European countries (more later on this site).
The inclusion of the cases reported below is justified by the same reason – though these cases do not represent ritual murders. The ’cause-in-common’ of these distinct but related crimes is: superstition. Whereas the battle against superstition should be fought with all strength and conviction that we have, the rule of law should be strictly applied to those who commit these heinous crimes, be it murdering or torturing innocent people, notably children. Their suffering in the hands of the perpetrators of these crimes should end as soon as possible. Each new case is a case too much. (Webmaster FVDK).
Children accused of witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK (2014)
Published: October 16, 2014 By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG
London’s Metropolitan Police reports that cases of abuse where the child is accused of being a witch or possessed by an evil spirit are on the rise.
Thus far this year 27 allegations have been received — up from 24 in 2013.
There were 19 such cases reported in 2012, and 9 in 2011. Some 148 cases have been referred to the Metropolitan Police since 2004.
The rise in the number of reports is likely due to greater awareness among social workers, healthcare staff, teachers, pastors and others.
However, police believe many more cases are kept hidden in families and communities.
Parents, other guardians, and in several cases pastors and church members who believe a child is possessed often resort to physical abuse in order to try and get the spirits to leave.
New guidance has now been issued on how to spot children at risk of abuse linked to witchcraft.
On October 8, the Metropolitan Police Service and CCPAS, the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, hosted a multi-agency event at London’s City Hall to raise awareness of child abuse linked to faith or belief.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Det Supt Terry Sharpe explained:
“Abuse linked to belief is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths.
“A number of high-profile investigations brought the issue of ritual abuse and witchcraft into the headlines but it is important that professionals are clear about the signs to look for.
“Families or carers genuinely believe that the victim has been completely taken over by the devil or an evil spirit, which is often supported by someone who within the community has portrayed themselves as an authority on faith and belief.
“Regardless of the beliefs of the abusers, child abuse is child abuse. Our role is to safeguard children, not challenge beliefs. We investigate crimes against children, but our main aim is to prevent abuse in the first place. This is a hidden crime and we can only prevent it by working in partnership with the community. Project Violet aims to build trust with communities and emphasise that child protection is everyone’s responsibility.”
A training film aimed at all front-line professionals who work with children was launched at the event. The DVD, commissioned by our Project Violet team in conjunction with CCPAS, advises how to recognise the signs that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm from abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession.
According to CCPAS the training DVD will be made provided to Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) so they may make it available to social workers and other front line staff.
High-profile cases include Victoria Climbié (link added by the webmaster FVDK) whose great-aunt and her boyfriend — along with their pastor — believed the girl was demon-possessed.
Beaten, burned with cigarettes and forced to sleep in a bathtub, the 8-year-old girl died in February, 2000 — with 128 injuries on her body.
In 2001 the headless, limbless body of a boy aged between five and six was found floating in the river Thames. Evidence strongly suggests the boy was sacrificed in a Muti ritual. (See elsewhere on this site, ‘The unsolved case of the torso in the Thames’. The murder boy was ‘named ‘Adam’ by the investigators. Information added by the webmaster FVDK).
In 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu was tortured for three days by his sister and his boyfriend after being accused of witchcraft, and was subsequently drowned in a bathtub during an exorcism ritual.
In 2005 a leaked police report revealed that children are being trafficked into the country in order to be killed as human sacrifices:
A confidential report into the sacrifice and abuse of children at African churches describes how pastors are profiting from the trafficking of black boys into Britain.
Uncircumcised boys are being smuggled into the country for human sacrifice by fundamentalist sects whose members believe that their ritual killing will enhance spells.
TYPES OF WITCHCRAFT
Most reported cases involve what is known as “traditional witchcraft” as opposed to “contemporary witchcraft.”
Traditional Witchcraft, such as performed by shamans or witch doctors, is a magical practice — not a religion. However, it can have religious elements.
Contemporary Witchcraft is one of many types of neo-Paganism. It is religion within the broader context of occultism.
The problem of children who are accused of witchcraft is not limited to England. But after several high-profile cases there is a greater awareness — and official response — that highlights such cases.
Immigration also plays a role in the rise of reports — as many immigrants bring along various beliefs and superstitions.
Many Christian churches in Africa are part of the problem as well — as traditional beliefs are mingled with Christian theology regarding demons and exorcism.
An increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.
Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
In 2010 UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s charity, said that accusing children of sorcery was a fairly new and growing trend in Africa, despite long-held traditional and mystic beliefs on the continent.
Where previously elderly women were accused, today the focus more often falls on young children, often some of the most vulnerable, such as orphans, disabled or poor.
Child abuse linked to witchcraft on the increase “Met reveals it has investigated allegations of children having chilli rubbed into their eyes and being forced to drink noxious liquids in order to rid them of evil spirits.” Published: October 8, 2014 By: Martin Evans, Crime correspondent, The Telegraph
Published: March 4, 2019 By: Penelope Paliani-Kamanga – Southern Times
Blantyre – Continued killings of people with albinism in Malawi has made the country unsure of to what to do with the population blaming each other and concerned persons calling on government and the police to seriously do something about it.
The confusion, which has left the country living in fear and on bended knees, comes at a time when 10 people with albinism were recently reported missing amid reports that they may have been abducted. They have been reports of the abduction of a child in Karonga and recently of a teenager in Dedza.
Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than 10 people missing, according to Association of People with Albinism in Malawi. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).
Discrimination against people with albinism has been a problem in the past in Malawi and experts had expressed concerned earlier this year that the violence could get worse with the coming May 21 election. Experts called on the government to redouble its efforts and implement all necessary measures to protect people with albinism.
The expected spike around election time is due to the false belief that ritual use of the body parts of people with albinism can bring good luck and political power. This might lead to torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities.
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, in a recent demand for action, has challenged President Peter Mutharika to put an end to killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country.
He was speaking at a press conference last week in Lilongwe, following the abduction of a boy with albinism, Goodson Makanjira, 14, of Mphanyama village, traditional authority Chilikumwendo in Dedza.
Chakwera said Mutharika has executive powers to end this barbaric practice but was “sleeping on the job and being a coward”.
“I only have three words for the President; do your job! Stop being a coward and do your job. If you do not end these murders and abductions, you will leave a legacy that will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Chakwera promised that once voted into power, he will end the abductions and killings within a month.
Chakwera said it was sad that the killings were continuing despite government launching the National Action Plan (NAP) last year to protect those living with albinism.
“I will keep fighting for the rights of our friends. My advice to the President is to act now, use his powers and don’t be afraid of the ‘buyers’, because I know they are there,” he said.
But State House press secretary Mgeme Kalilani, in an interview, described Chakwera’s remarks as a threat to the rule of law and warned him against using the plight of people with albinism for political mileage.
In another demand for action, president of Umodzi Party (UP) one of the parties in the race for the elections, Professor John Chisi, expressed dissatisfaction with the way police were handling albino abductions and killings.
Chisi, who said the situation was pathetic, demanded the resignation of the country’s Inspector General of Police Rodney Jose on the grounds that he had failed to protect people with albinism.
“This issue of albino killings is unacceptable. These are avoidable deaths. The police have failed us, as they have the National Intelligence Bureau but are doing nothing. The Inspector General of Police must conduct a press conference to let us know why they are failing to end the malpractice, if not, he and his people must resign,” said Chisi.
National Coordinator of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Boniface Massah, said in a statement that the refusal to push forward with prosecuting suspects accused of attacking and killing people with albinism has left a persecuted minority on the edge.
Massah said in an interview the government’s failure to conclude cases demonstrated that “security has not improved”, leaving the estimated 10,000-strong community vulnerable and anxious.
“We face a high risk of attack and we have seen government commitment in words, but not in action,” he said.
In a desperate move to tackle this issue, two groups and some concerned citizens have petitioned Malawi’s Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma, to thoroughly investigate the country’s failure to protect persons with albinism.
Specifically APAM, in its petition, wants the Ombudsman to direct President Mutharika to appoint a commission of inquiry and conduct a comprehensive research to trace and identify the alleged source of demand and supply for body parts of PWAs.
Further, APAM also wants Mutharika to seek, as a matter of urgency, international support to conduct investigations, including specialist support for forensic testing and combating human trafficking, to bring perpetrators of these gross human rights abuses to justice.
The petition, signed by APAM president Overstone Kondowe, shows that there are currently 165 cases against PWAs, including 36 concluded cases, 39 cases pending in courts, 79 under investigation and 12 cases closed due to lack of proper evidence.
On the other hand, Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (Fedoma) executive director Action Amos said his organisation was concerned that there was no breakthrough in tracing the root cause of the atrocities or markets.
Reads the Fedoma petition: “We are demanding that your office assists with pushing for an establishment of a commission of inquiry. The current technical committee is toothless and won’t bring us any results. We have development partners willing to support the commission of inquiry.
The European Union (EU) has also been one of the organistions that has asked government to do something about the abductions. EU Ambassador Sandra Paesen this week called for serious criminal investigations and coordination among countries to fight abductions and killings of people with albinism.
Paesen said finger pointing will not solve the vice which has left a dent on Malawi.
Albinism is a genetically inherited condition. It often results in the lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.
The attacks stem from a belief that body parts belonging to people with albinism contain magical powers.
Mutharika, who has of late been talking tough on atrocities against PWAs, has been blamed for simply making podium rants, with little being done on the ground to stop the vice.
The Malawi government launched a four-year National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism aimed at ending atrocities against persons with albinism, and improving their social welfare. Since 2014, at least 23 PWAs have been killed.
Published: February 24, 2019 By: Wongani Chiuta – Nyasa Times
HRDC (Human Rights Defenders Coalition) headperson Timothy Mtambo says the State has become a suspect in the abduction of people with albinism and killing them for ritual.
Mtambo’s comments in the press follows preliminary findings of an autopsy for the late Buleya Luke, a key suspect in the abduction of a 14-year old albino boy Goodson Makanjira in Dedza, that has revealed he was electrocuted, then hit with metal bars.
Another suspect in the abduction of a 18-year old baby with albinism Eunice Nkhonjera, Donald Msafiri, 61, allegedly committed suicide a day after being interrogated by police in Karonga.
Mtambo claimed the killing of people with albinism is a result of a leadership crisis facing the country.
“This madness is happening because of leadership failure from the Commander-in-Chief, Inspector General of Police and the Minister responsible for Homeland Security. This government is a big failure and we will hold them accountable, no matter what.”, Mtambo explained in comments reported by Nation on Sunday newspaper.
The late suspect was alleged to have offered K800 000 to buy Goodson, who is still missing in Dedza.
Lule has become the third suspect to die while on trial related to abduction of persons with albinism since 2015. All the three cases have the police involved. In 2015, another suspect charged in connection with abduction of a two-year old girl with albinism in Machinga died in the hands of the police after he allegedly jumped from a cruising police vehicle. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).
A HRDC statement made available to Nyasa Times signed by Mtambo, said these deaths [of key suspects] smack of foul-play, adding, it is too tempting to conclude that there are powerful forces orchestrating them.
“Firstly, we strongly believe that these deaths are mafia-like planned and executed just to frustrate investigations that would lead us to alleged markets and lords behind these heinous crimes.
“Secondly, we at HRDC and indeed all well-meaning Malawians are tempted to think that those that we have entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the perpetrators of these inhumane acts are deliberately failing to do their job,” reads the statement.
The government is under fire for not doing enough to protect people with albinism as cases of attacks and killings continue to rise since 2014.
Amnesty International (AI) has since taken swipe at Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi for insinuating that attacks on persons with albinism (PWA) were not yet at crisis level.
AI, a global movement of more than seven million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights, said in a statement Thursday that the ‘shameful denial comments’ are fuelling attacks against persons with albinism.
During a news conference in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Dausi is on record to have said that the attacks on persons with albinism were yet to get to levels where they should hold vigils at State House or seek asylum in other countries.
In the Thursday statement, AI deputy director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said remarks by Dausi will only embolden those perpetrating the assaults and are a disturbing reminder of the government’s inaction on the issue.
She said: “The latest comments from Minister Nicholas Dausi are yet another indication that persons with albinism in Malawi are on their own when it comes to their safety and security.”
Mwananyanda has since urged the government to promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the recent attacks against persons with albinism and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice.