IBAHRI denounces death sentence delivered against three in Malawi

Reference is made to a recent court decision to sentence three individuals to death for killing and dismembering a person with albinism in August 2015. See my August 20, 2019 posting for more details (‘Malawi judge sentences three to death for albinism murder.‘) According to research carried out by the Cornell Law School, Malawi operates a moratorium on the death penalty and last carried out an execution in 1992 (webmaster FVDK).

A man was sentenced to death in Malawi for killing an albino teenager

Published: August 23, 2019
By: Our reporter (The Maravi Post)

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is deeply concerned about the recent decision in Malawi to sentence three individuals to death for killing and dismembering a person with albinism in August 2015. The IBAHRI fully supports the enjoyment of all rights by persons with albinism and recognises the challenges Malawi is facing in curbing the heinous attacks against persons with albinism. Despite this, the IBAHRI maintains that the death penalty is not the solution to preventing such odious crimes and goes against the international trend towards its abolition.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘To stop the commission of crimes against human rights, penalties that violate the same fundamental rights cannot be imposed. Attacks against persons with albinism must end, but the punishment that the perpetrators should face must respect international human rights law. We exhort the Malawi government to revise this judgement.’

On Tuesday 14 August 2019, at the High Court in the Mchinji district, Central Malawi, Judge Esmey Chombo passed death sentences on three individuals: Douglas Mwale, Sophie Jere and Fontino Folosani – who were found guilty of murdering and mutilating Priscott Pepuzani, who had albinism, in August 2015. In her ruling, Judge Chombo said the death sentences would send a strong message to other would-be offenders and put an end to such malpractices.

Since 1992, Malawi has had a moratorium on the death penalty, and the mandatory death penalty for murder was eliminated in 2007. African regional standards established by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including General Comment No.3 on the right to life, Resolutions 42 and 136, as well as the Cotonou Declaration on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa , call on State Parties to move towards the abolition of the death penalty. Nevertheless, this is not the first time in recent years that the death penalty has been imposed for this kind of crime. In May 2019, Willard Mikaele was sentenced to death for the murder of Mphatso Pensulo, another person with albinism.

In the denunciation of this recent judgement, the IBAHRI reiterates its recognition of the difficult situation for people with albinism, which is particularly worrying in Malawi and other countries of the region due to frequent ritual killings and trading of body parts. In its 2018 report ‘Waiting to disappear’ International and Regional Standards for the Protection of the Human Rights of Persons with Albinism , the IBAHRI suggests that the legal protection of the rights of persons with albinism needs to be dramatically improved.

The IBAHRI condemns all attacks against persons with albinism and the violation of their rights, but believes that the imposition of the death penalty infringes the universally guaranteed right to life and amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, contrary to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, stated: ‘The death penalty is amongst the worst of human rights violations, where the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment are completely ignored. The decision to resort to the death penalty is incompatible with a country that supports the rule of law and good governance.’

In 2008, the IBAHRI Council passed a resolution stating: ‘the Human Rights Institute shall in the future actively promote the abolition of the death penalty’.

Source: IBAHRI denounces death sentence delivered against three in Malawi

‘Stop killing us for our body parts’: Albinism society South Africa (2016 article)

In South Africa, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Mozambique, Burundi, in most countries in Southern Africa people with albinism are targeted, terrorized, attacked, mutilated, murdered, all for one purpose: muti. In recent years governments in some of these countries have taken measures to protect their albino-citizens. President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania pledged to crackdown on albino killings (2015), the Malawian government ordered police to shoot in a bid to protect albinos (2015). Prosecution of suspects have started in various countries. Yet it is not enough. The attacks and killings continue. More needs to be done: education – to teach people that superstition, the belief in the power of muti is misplaced and that one cannot get away with murder – and the rule of law are key to eradicate these heinous crimes against innocent people who are born with a disability and have to live with it: albinism. (webmaster FVDK).  

Johannesburg, 2 June 2016 – The African Union and SADC are being urged to do more to protect people living with albinism. Hate crimes against people with albinism are still rife across the continent.

Published: June 2, 2016
By: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG – with hate crimes against people with albinism still rife across the continent, the African Union and SADC have been urged to do more on their behalf.

In South Africa,a campaign has been launched  to try and put an end to this human rights crisis.

A recent victim was Thandazile Mpunza, a 20-year-old KwaZulu-Natal woman, whose remains were found in a shallow grave last August.

It is suspected that she was murdered for witchcraft purposes because of her albinism.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) has taken up the fight.

CRL Commission Chair, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, said, “We need to say as Africans we need to say not in our continent, you can’t continue with this thing here and as a continent we need to protect people with albinism.

“There is a lot of energy worldwide to protect the rhino, we expect the same if not more energy to protect people with albinism. If they are being hunted like the rhino, how much coverage do they get, one rhino killed in Malawi or in SA the while world will know about it. But people with albinism their story is not told aggressively enough as we hear stories about the rhino.”

*View  the attached video for more on the plight of people living with albinism in Africa.

Source: ‘Stop killing us for our body parts’: Albinism society

South Africa – Provinces

Malawi cops detain suspect who tried to strangle albino boy (2015 article)

This image courtesy of the Milliyet Daily shows women carrying their albino children on May 5, 2014, in Dar es Salaam. The Tanzanian government has taken some steps in the wake of the killing spree, opening shelters for albino children in some parts of the country and commissioning task forces to investigate albino killings. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete appointed the country’s first albino member of parliament in 2008. Gauging the size of Tanzania’s albino population is difficult, and estimates vary wildly. The government has undertaken a national survey of albinos but has not released its findings. Albino advocacy groups put the number somewhere above 100,000, out of a total population of roughly 48 million people. AFP PHOTO/MILLIYET DAILY HANDOUT/BUNYAMIN AYGUN

Published: March 12, 2015
By: MalayMail

BLANTYRE (Malawi), March 12 — Police in Malawi said today they had arrested a man for trying to strangle to death a 16-year-old albino boy, with a rights group reporting six murders in the last three months.

The suspect had been on the run after he was caught trying to kill the 16-year-old at his home in February.

In the southern tea-growing district of Mulanje, police spokesman James Kadadzera said the man would soon appear in court on a charge of attempted murder.

As in other parts of Africa, albinos in Malawi are killed for their body parts, which are sold for witchcraft.

Six albinos have been killed in the impoverished southern African country since December, according to the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi.

Malawian albinos are “living in fear of being attacked or killed” because of the recent spate of murders, association director Boniface Massah said.

Belief in witchcraft runs deep in Malawi and albino body parts are often used in rituals. Even the bodies of dead albinos are sometimes exhumed and sold.

Earlier this week, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein denounced attacks against albinos as “stunningly vicious, with children in particular being targeted”.

Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition that causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.

Countries in east and west Africa are worst affected, and Tanzania near Malawi has one of the highest attack rates.

In Tanzania, body parts sell for around US$600 (RM2,100) and an entire corpse fetches US$75,000, according to the UN.

Today, Tanzanian police said over 200 people have been arrested as part of a nationwide crackdown on witchdoctors linked to a wave of albino attacks and murders.

Albinism in Tanzania affects one in 1,400 births, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say. — AFP

Source: Malawi cops detain suspect who tried to strangle albino boy

Malawi judge sentences three to death for albinism murder

File Photo

Published: August 14, 2019
By: Charles Pensulo, Thomson Reuters Foundation

BLANTYRE, Aug 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Three people have been sentenced to death in Malawi for the murder and mutilation of a person with albinism, a court official confirmed on Wednesday, a sanction the judge said would serve as a strong deterrent. 

Malawi is one of the most dangerous countries for people with the condition, who are targeted for ritual killings because of a belief that their body parts can increase wealth. 

Douglas Mwale, Sophie Here and Fontino Folosani killed Prescott Pepuzani in 2015, using a metal bar and a hoe handle before chopping off his hands and legs and burying him in Mwale’s garden in Mchinji district, Central Malawi. 

Passing sentence on Tuesday at the High Court in Mchinji, Judge Esmey Chombo said it would act as a strong deterrent to others and help put an end to the crime. 

Another man was sentenced to death in Malawi in May for murdering a teenager with albinism – the first time the death penalty had been handed down in such a case – though he has not been executed. (Also see my May 4 posting – webmaster FVDK).

Malawi operates a moratorium on the death penalty and last carried out an execution in 1992, according to research by Cornell Law School. 

The southern African country is home to up to 10,000 people with albinism, a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. 

Their body parts can fetch high sums in an underground trade concentrated in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania. 

There have been more than 160 recorded attacks in Malawi including 22 murders since November 2014, according to human rights group Amnesty International. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK)

The government has denied accusations by rights groups that it is doing little to stop the violence. 

Overstone Kondowe, who heads the African Union for People with Albinism, said he hoped the sentence would curb the attacks. 

“This is really a big step and we want to encourage the Malawi government to continue (with tough penalties),” he said. 

“Whether they will really be hanged or not, it’s not significant. The public will still get the message.” 

Kondowe urged the courts to take a similarly tough stance with other pending cases, adding that the murders of people with albinism had fallen in Tanzania, which has imposed the death penalty in similar cases.

(Reporting by Charles Pensulo; Writing by Emma Batha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

Source: Malawi judge sentences three to death for albinism murder

Related articles: 

Death penalty handed down for three albino killers in Malawi

An albino boy and his friend in Luwerezi, Malawi (Wikimedia/janjacob).

Published: August 14,2019
By: RFI

Two men and a woman have been sentenced to death in Malawi after being convicted of brutally murdering a man with albinism in 2015.

The “three were found guilty of (murder and possessing human tissue) and have been sentenced to death” in Mchinji on Tuesday, judiciary spokesperson Agness Patemba told Agence France Presse newswire.

Douglas Mwale, Fontino Folosani and Sophie Jere used a metal bar and hoe handle to kill Priscott Pepuzani, chopping off his limbs and burying his body. Body parts of people with albinism are seen as magical, their limbs used in witchcraft for good luck, wealth, or to win elections.

“This ruling enhances our faith in the judiciary and solidifies our belief that we have them as an advocate in our fight to curb killings and abductions against people with albinism,” Ian Simbota, the head of the Association of People Living with Albinism, said after the ruling.

He added that he hoped it would deter others from attacking people with albinism.

President Peter Mutharika created a commission of inquiry last March after a number of people with albinism were attacked. He had come under fire for not adequately responding to the issue.

Amnesty International released a report in May showing that 22 of the 163 cases reported in Malawi since 2014 have been murders, an indication that little had been done to combat the issue.

This is the second death sentence handed down this year for albino murders. In May, Willard Mikaele, the killer of Mphatso Pensulo, 19, was sentenced to death.

Death sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment, as Malawi has not executed any criminals since 1994.

Source: Death penalty handed down for three albino killers in Malawi

And:

Malawi court sentences three to death over albino killing

Malawi’s musician with albinism, Lazarus Chigwandali, practices his guitar and drum in front of his children before leaving his home at Likuni to go and perform at Area 3 Market in the capital Lilongwe on May 10, 2019 in Likuni on the outskirts of Lilongwe, Malawi. – Chigwandali is not the usual street musician. He is an albino, releasing a professional album, and the star of a documentary produced by Madonna. Albinos are often targeted in brutal attacks in Malawi and other southern African countries because they have white skin due to a hereditary condition that causes lack of pigmentation. (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA / AFP)

Published: August 14, 2019
By: MalayMail

BLANTYRE, Aug 14 — A Malawi court has convicted and sentenced two men and a woman to death for killing a person with albinism, a judiciary official said today.

Malawi has since late 2014 seen a surge in attacks on people with albinism, whose body parts are often used in witchcraft rituals to bring wealth and luck.

The court found Douglas Mwale, Fontino Folosani and Sophie Jere guilty of murdering Priscott Pepuzani in 2015 using a metal bar and a hoe handle. The trio chopped off Pepuzani’s limbs and later buried the rest of the body in a garden. The “three were found guilty of (murder and possessing human tissue) and have been sentenced to death,” Agness Patemba, judiciary spokeswoman told AFP. The sentence was handed down in the western town of Mchinji on Tuesday.

This is the second death sentence handed down in the country in the past three months following one in May this year for the murder of 19-year-old albino Mphatso Pensulo in 2017.

Malawi has not carried out any executions since 1994, with death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Association of People Living with Albinism welcomed Tuesday’s ruling, hoping it will deter attacks on their members.

“This ruling enhances our faith in the judiciary and solidifies our belief that we have them as an advocate in our fight to curb killings and abductions against people with albinism,” said Ian Simbota, leader of the association. 

President Peter Mutharika in March appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the spate of attacks on people with albinism after coming under mounting criticism over his response to the attacks.

Albinos are often targeted in brutal attacks in Malawi – one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent countries – because they have white skin due to a hereditary condition that causes lack of pigmentation. In many cases, those with albinism are targeted for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.

Of 163 cases reported in the country since November 2014, 22 have been murders, Amnesty International said in May 2019, criticising impunity for the crimes. Just 30 per cent of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics. — AFP (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

Source: Malawi court sentences three to death over albino killing

And: 
Malawi: 3 sentenced to death over killing of person with albinism – Second death sentence handed down in recent months related to violence against people with albinism.

People with albinism, of which there are up to 10,000 in the country, are often victims of brutal attacks in Malawi [Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP]

Published: August 15, 2019
By: AlJazeera

Malawi court has convicted and sentenced three people to death for killing a person with albinism.

The “three were found guilty of [murder and possessing human tissue] and have been sentenced to death,” judiciary spokeswoman Agness Patemba told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

The court found Douglas Mwale, Fontino Folosani and Sophie Jere guilty of murdering Priscott Pepuzani in 2015 using a metal bar and a hoe handle. The trio chopped off Pepuzani’s limbs and buried the rest of the body in a garden.

The sentence was handed down in the western town of Mchinji on Tuesday.

This is the second death sentence handed down in the country in the past three months.

Another man was sentenced to death in May for murdering a teenager with albinism – the first time the death penalty had been handed down in such a case – though he has not been executed.

Malawi has not carried out any executions since 1994, with death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

‘Big step’

In March, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the spate of attacks on people with albinism, after coming under mounting criticism over his response to the attacks.

Overstone Kondowe, who heads the African Union for People with Albinism, said he hoped the sentence would curb the attacks.

“This is really a big step and we want to encourage the Malawi government to continue [with tough penalties],” said Kondowe.

“Whether they will really be hanged or not, it’s not significant. The public will still get the message.”

The Association of People Living with Albinism also welcomed the ruling, hoping it will deter attacks on their members.

“This ruling enhances our faith in the judiciary and solidifies our belief that we have them as an advocate in our fight to curb killings and abductions against people with albinism,” said Ian Simbota, leader of the association.

People with albinism, of which there are up to 10,000 in the country, are often victims of brutal attacks in Malawi – one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent nations.

This is because of their white skin resulting from a hereditary condition that causes a lack of pigmentation.

Other conditions associated with albinism include vulnerability to bright light, which can cause legal blindness.

Often, individuals with albinism are targeted in Malawi for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.

More than 160 cases have been reported in the country since November 2014, of which 22 have been murders, Amnesty International said in May 2019.

Just 30 percent of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics. 

Source: Malawi: 3 sentenced to death over killing of person with albinism

PS The original AlJazeera article contains three additional, interesting presentations, one on ‘What is albinism and what causes it?‘ (Infographic), another called ‘Africa investigates: The spell of the albino’ – 25 minutes), and a third called ‘Killed for their bones – Read their story‘, a lengthy article with lots of photos, and worth reading (webmaster FVDK).  

Amnesty International: “Albinism in Malawi: stop the killings” (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.

Hunted for their body parts

Watch the video: Hunted for their body parts

Screen shot announcing the video; see link above for the video (FVDK).

Teenager David abducted at a football match

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. 

Screen shot announcing the video. See the link above or my April 8 post for the video (FVDK)

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.

Source: Albinism in Malawi: Stop the killings

2016 Amnesty International Report on Violence and Discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi

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 

Executive Summary

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.

Source: “WE ARE NOT ANIMALS TO BE HUNTED OR SOLD”
2016 Amnesty International Report on Violence and Discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi 

People with albinism in Malawi face ‘total extinction’ – UN (2016 article)

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’ 

UN expert on albinism Ikponwosa Ero says people with the condition are seen as a form of income

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.

Source: People with albinism in Malawi face ‘total extinction’ – UN

Liberia: ritual killings, witch trials go unpunished (2015)

Nine cases of suspected ritualistic killing have been reported to the United Nations since 2012, but local media say there have been at least 10 related murders since this summer

Published: December 18, 2015 Updated 16:22 GMT
By: Reuters

Ritual killings, witch trials go unpunished in Liberia

DAKAR, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Liberia must tackle a widespread culture of impunity for perpetrators of ritual killings and trials of ordeal and put its human rights obligations before such traditional practices, the United Nations rights chief said on Friday.

Authorities are reluctant to investigate or prosecute such cases, fearful of a backlash from practitioners and politicians, while some state officials are even part of the secret societies that perform the practices, said a U.N. report.

Women, children, the elderly and the disabled are the main victims of harmful cultural practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM) and initiation into secret societies, it said.

“Criminal offences perpetrated through harmful traditional practices often go unpunished due to their perceived cultural dimensions,” said the joint report from the U.N. Mission in Liberia and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“This has generated a widespread culture of impunity among traditional actors,” it said.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last month vowed to crack down on those responsible for a rise in ritual killings in the West African nation.

Nine cases of suspected ritualistic killing have been reported to the United Nations since 2012, but local media say there have been at least 10 related murders since this summer. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

They occur in some African nations due to a belief that body parts can work magic to obtain success or political power.

It is not yet clear why ritual killings are rising, but the report warned of an increase ahead of national elections in 2017, and some residents have speculated that presidential hopefuls are using black magic to boost their chances.

The report also documented the prevalence of FGM, widely performed by the women’s secret society Sande, and abductions, torture and gang-rapes carried out by the male society Poro.

Many women and children in Liberia are accused of witchcraft, and face “exorcism” rituals, trials by ordeal, expulsion or even death, according to the report.

The trials involve the accused being subjected to pain, such as poison or burning, to determine their innocence or guilt.

“Liberia’s human rights obligations must take precedence over any local practices considered to be ‘cultural’ or ‘traditional’ where such practices are incompatible with human rights,” said U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)

Source: Ritual killings, witch trials go unpunished in Liberia – U.N.

Liberia is located at the west cost of Africa

Wave of ritual killings in Liberia (2015)

The following article  can be found in the AllAfrica archive, which requires a subscription. Unfortunately, the original article, which was published by The News, a Liberian newspaper, is no longer available on the internet. Interested readers are advised to follow the instructions below.  (Webmaster FVDK).

Published: December 4, 2015
By: The News

Liberia: Our people are frightened 

EDITORIAL

The Recent Wave of ritual killings in Liberia have got the entire country petrified, particularly in Monrovia where the bodies of several people allegedly killed for ritual purposes are found. These killings continue to occur in spite of commitment by the Liberian government that it would deal with the situation.

Last Month, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf vowed to crack down on those responsible for ritual killings in the country. Yet, it would appear no progress has been made by the government to set a dragnet for those responsible for killing innocent men, women and children.

(………)

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Source: Liberia: Our people are frightened

Liberia is located on the west coast of Africa

Malawi: albino attack (2015 case)

In Malawi, attacking, mutilating and killing persons with albinism is rampant. Body parts of albinos are mistakenly believed to bring power and wealth. Not a year passes without one or more reports of these heinous crimes. The following example merely illustrates this and definitely is no exception. 

In November 2015 three men attacked a 17-year old boy with albinism, Alfred Chikalo, and nearly killed him with the intention to sell his body parts. It was not the only case of attacks on people with albinism in 2015. Police in Phalombe district arrested the three culprits who confessed hacking Alfred Chikalo. A few weeks later, Police in Phalombe district arrested a 29-year old man, Lawo Sambani, who was accused of being the mastermind behind the plot to attack the 17-year old boy. The victim sustained deep stab wounds in the head, both arms and on the upper part of his left leg. He was rushed to the hospital and discharged a couple of weeks later.

It was announced that the four men in police custody will be brought to court. Unfortunately, since their detention, nothing is known about their trial. To be continued. (FVDK)

More details in the following articles (warning: the original articles contain a graphic picture showing the victim):

Albino attack: three arrested and confess hacking 17-year-old boy
Published: December 8, 2015
By: Maurice Nkawihe – Nyasa Times

and

Mastermind of Albino attack arrested – Malawi Police
Published: December 15, 2015
By: Maurice Nkawihe – Nyasa Times

Phalombe district – Malawi