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

Nigeria: Benue Police paraded a man who murdered his son for ritual purposes

The decision of the Nigerian Police to parade arrested individuals suspected of (serious) crimes is a violation of their human rights (webmaster FVDK).

Published: March 1, 2019
By: Nigeria Today

The Benue State Police Command on Tuesday, paraded suspects arrested for various crimes in the state.

Briefing newsmen at the Command Headquarters in Makurdi, the Commissioner of Police, CP Omololu Bishi, said two of the suspects confessed to killing a young man for a ritual purpose.

According to the CP, the father of the victim, Mr. Iorumbur Amanger of Tombo-Mbaya Buruku Local Government Area wrote a petition to the Command stating that Hyginus Lubem Mbachi of the same address defrauded him of the sum of Two Hundred and Nine Thousand; One Hundred and Fifty Naira (₦209, 150) only being fee for the admission of his son Afa Amanger into a University in Cameroon. The said suspect left his house with his son to Cameroon and since then he could not communicate with his son.

“During investigation Hyginus Lubem Mbachii and one Gambo Bulus alias Murphy of Akwanga, Nasarawa State was arrested at Lafia, Nasarawa State on 22/02/2019 in connection with the case. The suspects confessed to have killed Afa Amanger since 05/01/2019 for ritual purpose and has been collecting money from the complainant for his own personal use”

The corpse of the deceased has been recovered from the Hospital where the suspects earlier abandoned the victim and ran away. The suspect will soon be arraigned in Court.

The Command also arrested (….) (omitted since not relevant for the present site – webmaster VDK). 

Source: Benue Police Parade A Man Who Defrauds Another Man Of ₦200k, Murders His Son For Ritual Purposes

Related article: Police nab 2 for ritual killing in Benue
Published: February 28, 2019
By: Rose Ejembi – The Sun – Voice of the Nation

Nemesis has caught up with two young men, Hyginus Mbachi and Gambo Bulus who killed a young man for ritual after one of them took him from his father on the pretext that he was going to help him gain admission in the Republic of Cameroon.

Parading the suspects on Thursday, Benue State Police Commissioner, Omololu Bishi, said the police acted on a petition written by the deceased father, Iorumbur Amanger, stating that Mbachi defrauded him the sum of N208,150 being fee for the admission of his son, Afa, into a university in Cameroon.

“He (Amanger), said the suspect left his house with his son to Cameroon and since then, he could not communicate with his son,” adding that during investigation, Mbachi (22) and Bulus (23) were arrested in Nasarawa State on February 22, 2019, in connection with the case.

Bishi who disclosed that the suspects had already confessed to the crime, said the suspects confessed to have killed Afa since January 5, this year for ritual purposes adding that the herbalist was still on the run with the blood-stained knife.

The CP who said the suspects had also been collecting money from the complainants for their own personal use, revealed that after stabbing Afa, they took him to a hospital on the claims that he was their friend who was involved in an accident.

“As soon as the hospital took the patient into the emergency ward, the two suspected criminals disappeared and never returned to the hospital.”

Bishi who posited that the suspect would soon be arraigned in court said the corpse of the deceased has been recovered from the hospital where the suspects earlier abandoned him and ran away.

Speaking with newsmen while being paraded, the suspects, Mbachi and Bulus who confessed to the crime said the victim whom they alleged was a member of the Young Vikings confraternity was actually not the target for their ritual purpose but was stabbed in error.

Bishi warned parents against giving out their wards to people they don’t really know, stressing that ritual killings, kidnapping and other social vices are now happening at an alarming rate in the country.

“It felt like a punishment”: growing up with albinism in Tanzania

A must read. Though a very lengthy report that I reproduce here, it contains such a wealth of information on albinism, people living with albinism, their fears, their dangers, the measures taken by the Government of Tanzania, that I thought I must conserve it and present to you.
I will not even try to summarize it or give some sketchy details, judge for yourself. 
(Webmaster FVDK)

Published: February 9, 2019 3:01AM EST
By: Human Rights Watch

Two girls play in the shade of the outer walls of the orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania. After the orphanage started accepting children with albinism, the walls were secured with barbed wire.@2016 Sacha de Boer

Introduction

Many children with albinism in Tanzania share similar stories of hardship. The “temporary holding shelters” strategy introduced by the Tanzanian government in the late 2000s may have contributed to a decline in the number of physical attacks, but Human Rights Watch observed that it led to the emergence of additional challenges.

In July 2017, Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 children and young people with albinism, aged 7 to 18 years old, and 26 other people, including family members, education professionals and nongovernmental organizations in the Mwanza, Shinyanga and Simiyu regions of Tanzania. There, we found that Tanzanian government policies designed to protect children with albinism incidentally had a negative impact on their rights to family life, an adequate standard of living and inclusive education. In order to protect their privacy and shield them from potential repercussions, the names of most interviewees referred to hereafter have been changed.

While the Tanzanian government appears sensitive to these concerns, it should now intensify efforts to reinsert children with albinism into their communities and provide them with inclusive education, while continuing to investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacking children with albinism. By doing so, Tanzania has an opportunity to emerge as a strong African leader in ensuring the safety, inclusion and dignity of people with albinism, as outlined in the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa, the first-ever continental strategy to address violations against people with albinism, adopted in 2017.[1]

What Is The Best Interests of the Child Principle?

The Best Interest of the Child principle derives from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It requires state parties to prioritize the interests of the child in any action that may impact them. This includes taking into consideration the child’s own views and desires, his identity, his need for care and development and his right to a safe family and community environment. These factors should be considered altogether and balanced against one another if in contradiction. State intervention should be based on individual assessments of the particular child whose situation requires it.

Recommendations To the Government of Tanzania

  • Increase public sensitization efforts aimed at dispelling deadly and discriminatory myths about albinism, notably through workshops and public service announcements on radio and television, particularly in rural and isolated communities.
  • Ensure that all teachers in the public education system are trained to adequately provide for the specific needs of children with albinism.
  • Ensure that resources are at the disposal of schools to meet the specifications needed of children with albinism, notably by providing for textbooks and exams with larger fonts and assistive devices to read the blackboard.
  • Pursue efforts to promote the safety of people with albinism by investigating threats and crimes against people with albinism and holding those responsible to account.
  • Work with parents and communities to ensure the safe and orderly reunification of children with albinism with their families, with the goal of progressively dismantling the temporary holding shelters.

Recommendations to International Donors

  • Support projects dedicated to sensitizing the Tanzanian public to albinism and training teachers to provide for the specific needs of children with albinism in public schools.
  • Support the Tanzanian government in reuniting children with albinism with their families and ensuring their return to a safe, inclusive community.

Albinism in Tanzania

Children sitting in a row, among them one child with albinism.
Lightness, a 13-year-old girl with albinism, and her family attend a Lutheran church every Sunday. Ukerewe Island, Tanzania @2016 Sacha de Boer

Albinism is a genetic condition that causes a deficit in the biosynthesis of melanin, a pigment that colours the skin, hair and eyes. While albinism is a rare condition in Europe and North America, affecting one out of about every 17,000 to 20,000 people, it is slightly more widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, with prevalence rates of 1 in every 5,000 to 15,000 births.[2] Tanzania’s 2012 national census identified 16,477 people with albinism.[3] Today, it is estimated that there are over 18,000 people with albinism in the country.[4]

People with albinism usually have a paler, whiter appearance than their relatives. The deficit of melanin can also result in low vision and an increased vulnerability to sun’s ultra-violet radiation. Consequently, people with albinism living in Sub-Saharan African are about 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer than the general population.[5]

As noted by the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, “The complexity and uniqueness of the condition means that their experiences significantly and simultaneously touch on several human rights issues including, but not limited to, discrimination based on color, discrimination based on disability, special needs in terms of access to education and enjoyment of the highest standards of health, harmful traditional practices, violence including killings and ritual attacks, trade and trafficking of body parts for witchcraft purposes, infanticide and abandonment of children.”[6]

In many parts of East Africa, people with albinism are targeted for their body parts, which some believe hold magical powers and bring good fortune. Traditional healers and “sorcerers” have over the years claimed that people with albinism are “ghosts” who never die but merely disappear. In 2009, the International Federation of the Red Cross reported that a senior police officer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s economic capital said that the body of a person with albinism could fetch up to US$75,000.[7]

Over the last decade, Under the Same Sun, a Canadian non-governmental organization working to empower people with albinism, estimates that over 200 people with albinism, many of them children, have been killed in Africa or had their body parts amputated. In Tanzania alone, the group reported that at least 76 people with albinism were killed since 2006.[8]NGOs and local groups reported that criminals have stolen bones from the exhumed remains of people with albinism.[9]

The last reported killing, in February 2015, took place in the region of Geita, in Northwest Tanzania, when men abducted a one-year-old baby with albinism from his mother and “hacked [him] to death.”[10] The men were said to have hit the mother with a machete when she refused to hand over her child, an activist who was with her when she woke up at the hospital told Human Rights Watch.[11]

Faced with increased international scrutiny at the end of the 2000s, Tanzania began to mobilize resources to fight off traffickers and protect people with albinism. Local organizations told us that since 2007, hundreds of children were removed from their families, sometimes with no consultation or consent, and placed in shelters where they were effectively isolated from society.[12]

According to activists who spoke to Human Rights Watch, orders from the government to protect people with albinism were enforced by district commissioners, who oversee security in their respective districts.[13]

“There is an order from the district that says that if anything happens to [a] child with albinism, local leaders would be responsible. It something happens, the whole community will be suspected,” the manager of a local organization working with people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.[14] “Because no one wants trouble in their backyard, there was a big push from the communities to send the children to the shelters.”

The Tanzanian government also moved to combat impunity for ritual crimes, notably by investigating, arresting and prosecuting those who attack or sponsor attacks against people with albinism. In 2015, the Tanzanian government announced a ban on witchdoctors, which came out of a special joint task force between the police and the Tanzanian Albinism Society. As reported by the BBC at the time, then Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe declared there would be a nationwide effort to “arrest them and take them to court” if witch doctors continued their practices.[15] Over 200 suspects, including some allegedly involved in killings of people with albinism, were reportedly arrested by the authorities.[16]

Ten years after the wave of killings and attacks began, these appear to have decreased because of Tanzania’s protective measures and stronger response to ritual crimes and attacks against people with albinism. The temporary holding shelters, however, remain. “The shelters were emergency, temporary solutions. But 10 years is not temporary anymore,” an activist for the rights of people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.[17]

Under international human rights law, children with albinism have the right to live in a family environment. Local NGOs are now making efforts to reunite children and families.[18] The Tanzanian government should do more to reunite families, to combat stigma within communities and ensure that family caregivers have the financial and social support they need to care for these children.

The government’s response should be guided by the best interests of the children involved, and balance the child’s protection and safety with the preservation of the family environment and the enjoyment of other rights. This is particularly important as the government has begun to send some children from the shelters back to their communities.

Key Challenges

Separation from the family and movement restrictions

A girls with albinism seats on a bench in a church
Lightness, a 13-year-old girl with albinism, in a church on Ukerewe Island, Tanzania. @2016 Sacha de Boer

Most of the 13 children and young adults with albinism Human Rights Watch interviewed described how the killings and the ensuing protection measures implemented by the Tanzanian government separated them from their families.

While in many cases, separation was a decision of the parents, five children said they were ordered to go to a shelter or boarding school by government officials (police or district education officers), with no regard for their parents’ consent. Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm this assertion from their parents. Once in the shelters or special boarding schools, the children’s freedom of movement was severely curtailed on security grounds.

Marco, an 18-year-old man with albinism, described to Human Rights Watch how his father had been obliged to let him go to the shelter: “When the killings and attacks happened, the government moved me to the Buhangija temporary shelter (Shinyanga region). Police officers came home and spoke to my dad but he refused to take me to Buhangija immediately because he wanted to find out more about it first. The first time, the police left without problems. The second time, they left with me.”

Augustin, a 14-year-old teenager from Shinyanga who was attacked by criminals who cut his left forearms and fingers on his right hand when he was four-year-old, said the district education officer took him to the shelter when he was seven or eight. “He picked me up at a bus stand. At first, no one explained to me why I was being taken there. I was sad at the beginning because I missed my parents. It felt like a punishment. Now, I understand it was to protect me from bad people,” he told Human Rights Watch.[19]

The mother of Victoria, a young woman with albinism from Shinyanga region who stayed for three years in Buhangija, confirmed that parents did not have any choice but to let their children go: “The government wrote a letter to the school Victoria was attending giving notification that children with albinism should be sent to Buhangija [shelter]. We were given a specific date and time by which she had to be there, which was two days later.”

Victoria’s father added: “When the government said we had to bring Victoria to Buhangija, I didn’t know why. There was security here…. But I had to accept the order. I don’t know what would have happened if I had refused.” [20]

NGOs that promote the rights of people with albinism also reported pressure by the government on local schools and the community to send children away to the shelters, by threatening to hold community leaders and members accountable if a child who remained at home was attacked.[21] “For communities, having a child with albinism among them felt like a burden – because you have to provide protection – so the shelters were a good solution to get rid of that burden. You don’t have to respond to police enquiries if something happens,” a national advocate for the rights of people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.[22]

In addition, parents of children with albinism and organizations working with people with albinism told Human Rights Watch that regardless of whether children had been voluntarily or involuntarily placed in shelters, once they were under the protection of the state, they were no longer allowed to go home – even for vacations – without a letter from the village chairperson, approved by the district commissioner, guaranteeing the area’s safety.[23] An NGO worker explained the process to Human Rights Watch:

A boy with albinism looks out of the door of a house
Ivan, a 6-year-old boy with albinism, in his home on Ukerewe Island, Tanzania.@2016 Sacha de Boer

The parents [must] first get a letter from the chairperson of the village and then send it to the district commissioner. The chairperson’s letter should say that the area is safe, that we know the child with albinism is visiting the parents. Without the chairperson’s letter, the district commissioner cannot issue his own letter. Some parents complain and say that they have the right to take the children home. But they generally understand.[24]

Severin, a 14-year-old boy with albinism, said he never went home on vacation while he lived in the shelter. “Once in Buhangija [shelter], we were told we needed a letter to be allowed to go home. My parents didn’t try to get the letter. I felt bad not to be with my family during the vacations because I missed them,” he said.[25]

The parents of Victoria, a young woman with albinism who stayed for three years in Buhangija, who have university degrees, said it was easy to obtain such a letter from the authorities. “When the parents are bringing the letter, it assures the school that there is full security in the family and in the village [for children with albinism],” the mother said. “We wouldn’t have been allowed if we had tried to bring [our daughter] home for good. It was impossible to come out of Buhangija [shelter] without permission. There was full security.”[26]

A representative of an international NGO sponsoring the education of children with albinism told Human Rights Watch that these restrictions also apply to children who have been moved out of shelters and into private schools under their sponsorship program.[27]

As a result of the government’s restrictions, some children had not been home for several years, and some were no longer in contact with their family. In one case, Lucy, a 12-year-old girl with albinism, told Human Rights Watch at the time of the interview that she had not seen her mother in two years and did not know where her family was:

I was 6 years old when I got to Mitindo [shelter in Mwanza]. My mother brought me there because she saw the thieves [people attacking children with albinism] and so she took me to the [shelter]. I was left there alone by my mother and I felt sad because she said she’d come back but did not. She came back only once I went [to a private school, where I am being sponsored by an international NGO] in 2015. She came only for one day to ask who was paying my school fees and asked whether they could pay for my brothers too. I don’t know why she hasn’t come back. We don’t get to speak on the phone. I don’t have her number. So I don’t know about my mother and brothers right now.[28]

According to representatives of local organizations working with people with albinism, another reason why some children placed in shelters no longer see their family is because their parents left no records of where they came from, and tracing the family after several years is difficult.[29]“When some parents brought their children to the shelters, some didn’t leave any contacts and in other cases they did but the phone numbers don’t work,” a local NGO worker told Human Rights Watch.[30] A staff member of another NGO said the temporary holding shelters had become akin to orphanages: “Parents took advantage to drop their kids there. Some children with albinism have been there for four or five years now without seeing their parents.”[31]

The separation from family exerts a heavy emotional toll on young children with albinism. Peter, an 18-year-old man who stayed at the Buhangija for eight years, said his brother was the only one visiting him. “I didn’t want to come [to the shelter]. I was too young. I used to cry all the time. I was a child, I missed my mother, my grandmother and my sister,” he told researchers. “Only my brother would come to visit. I did speak with my mother however, maybe once a month by phone. I felt good talking to her but I missed her.”[32]

Despite the difficulties children with albinism face in the shelters, some, including Severin, said they saw advantages in living among other people with albinism: “My parents did not come to visit at Buhangija. But it was good to be with other children with albinism because we felt we had a right to stay in the world.”

To protect children with albinism from physical attacks, a number of shelters and boarding schools have enforced drastic security measures that deprive children of their freedom of movement.

In July 2017, Human Rights Watch visited Buhangija, a former boarding school for students with disabilities transformed into a temporary holding shelter for children with albinism in 2009. At the time of the visit, 226 children were living in the shelter, out of whom 142 were children with albinism (the others were deaf or blind children attending the inclusive school located next to the shelter). At the shelter, Human Rights Watch researchers observed a barren compound made up of five dormitories surrounded by tall walls topped with barbwire.[33] Children with albinism who attend class walk about 100 meters to the school. The rest of their free time is spent within the compound, which has no recreation space or trees to provide for shade, useful in helping people with albinism shield themselves from the sun.

“My first impression of Buhangija was that it was so difficult because we were staying in [the shelter] for the whole day and I’m a very mobile person. So I first felt very bad but as days went by, I got used to it,” Marco, an 18-year-old who left the shelter in 2017 told Human Rights Watch.[34]

The principal of a secondary boarding school that caters to children with and without albinism in Mwanza region told Human Rights Watch that the movement of children with albinism is restricted even beyond the temporary holding shelter, and in the case of his school, because it lacks resources to adequately protect them outside the compound: “The main challenge with people with albinism is protection and safety,” he explained. “I’ve been asking since last year for one district policemen to be on site at night but there isn’t enough [district]money to do that. So, we talk to those students and discourage them from walking around alone, especially at night.”[35]

A 15-year-old girl with albinism attending that secondary boarding school said they are not allowed to leave the dormitories: “The environment here is not good. We are not allowed to stay outside because the school doesn’t have enough security. Classes usually finish at 2:15 p.m. and we have to be in our dormitories by 2:40 p.m.”[36]

NGOs have reported that children with albinism living in these shelters are progressively being sent back to their communities.[37] While this is important progress, it is essential that the process of reinserting children in their communities complies with the best interests of the child principle. Authorities should ensure that the views of children and their families are taken into account, that children have access to education in their community, and that the community has protection systems in place.

Such consultations did not take place in the case of Mariam, a seven-year-old girl from Simiyu region, who was reunited with her 85-year-old grandmother. “After she was removed from Buhangija, the government forced me to take care of Mariam because her mother and father are not providing for her, “recalled the grandmother.” This happened without the government consulting me beforehand…. They just dumped the child on me.”[38] Mariam does not attend the local school because, her grandmother said, she could not afford to buy textbooks.

Stigma and bias in the community

A girls with albinism seets on steps, she is seen from the back
Lightness, a 13-year-old girl with albinism, says that sometimes she would like to be invisible. Ukerewe Island, Tanzania. @2016 Sacha de Boer

Eight children with albinism interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted how they experienced stigma and bias in their communities, including name-calling.

Josefina, a seven-year-old living with her grandparents in the Shinyanga region, for example, said other children call her “Mbuliwmelu,” which means “white goat” in the local Sukuma language. “When that happens, it makes me feel sad and very angry, but I stay silent,” she said.[39]

In the Simiyu region, the grandmother of Mariam, a seven-year-old young girl with albinism, said Mariam frequently faced similar experiences:

Most people have a negative perception of Mariam because of her color. They don’t even want to welcome Mariam in their home. If they see her, they’ll see her colour and will see that if she spends too much time in the sun she has sores. If she plays, they fear blood will come out of her. They call her “Mbulimwelu”. Mariam is always sad when they call her like that, and sometimes she locks herself in the house and starts crying. In those cases, I just leave her alone.[40]

In some cases, parents have rejected or attacked their own children. Twelve-year-old Lucy, for instance, now lives at a private boarding school after receiving a scholarship from an international NGO. Choking on her tears, she said her mother told her that her father abandoned her prior to sending criminals to try and kill her: “My mother told me that my father refused me. I don’t want to go back [to my hometown] because it is my father who sent the thieves to get me.”[41]

Despite efforts by the government of Tanzania and NGOs to sensitize the general public in recent years, progress remains fragile, especially in rural areas, where people with albinism continue to face stigma and the rejection of their community and, at times, their own families. This can lead to poor self-esteem among young people with albinism, and difficulties in finding work opportunities later in life. An 18-year-old man with albinism told Human Rights Watch in Shinyanga region that he thought people like him have a harder time at finding work: “My life would definitely be different if I was not a person with albinism. If you have a black skin, you have many more opportunities. You can do the physical work, whereas person with albinism have to be careful because of their skin.”[42]

But, as the parents of four children with albinism pointed out, not all communities and families reject children with albinism. “When I had my first child with albinism, I was happy and thought this was normal. My family was happy too and if they weren’t, they didn’t let it show,” their mother said.[43] “It is the choice of God. God is giving. We should agree with them, be close with them,” their father added.[44]

Barriers to education 

A boy with albinism seats in a classroom with other pupils
On his first day of school, students ran away when Sabato, a ten-year-old boy with albinism, walked into the classroom; they thought he was a “ghost.” The government then sent an education officer to the school to address the issue, but some children still do not want to sit too close to him. Ukerewe Island, Tanzania. @2016 Sacha de Boer

“People with albinism don’t get education,” a community organizer with albinism told Human Rights Watch.[45] “Firstly because of their low vision. Teachers don’t know how to deal with that. Secondly because [of lack of] interaction [with others]. There is teasing in school. People with albinism face a lack of interaction with local community. People see us as bad people. They see us as people who can’t contribute because of our bad education or lack of education,” he added.[46]

Ensuring a free, safe and dignified access to education is key to upholding the fundamental human rights of people with albinism and to combatting the stereotypes and stigma that continue to expose them to mistreatments and fatal risks.

Children with albinism face a range of barriers impeding their access to education.

Many families of children with albinism for instance are unable to enroll them in school because they lack sufficient income, or fear that having them walk to school may expose them to dangers.[47] The grandmother of Mariam, the seven-year-old girl with albinism, said she is ready to go school but that she doesn’t have the resources to send her. “I wish for Mariam to become a doctor or a teacher. I don’t want her to be a wife. But it costs money to buy books and everything.”[48]

Children with albinism may also face health risks at school due to their sensitivity to the sun. Laura, a 15-year-old student at a public secondary school, told Human Rights Watch that despite efforts to train teachers on the needs of children with albinism, the school still put the health of children with albinism at risk: “This school is not good. They force us to do activities in the sun. Teachers can also punish you if you say you can’t do activities in the sun. They caned me three times and it was very painful.”[49]

In addition, children with albinism do not always get the inclusive education they should be entitled to. In that respect, the existence of the temporary holding shelters and other special boarding schools, while providing safety and an opportunity to attend classes, promotes segregation and denies children the opportunity to learn with their peers without albinism and to feel included in their communities. As 12-year-old Lucy explained to Human Rights Watch, “It was not nice to only be with children with albinism because we stayed without difference – we must mix.”[50]

Children interviewed by Human Rights Watch also said that schools sometimes fail to provide children with albinism with appropriate accommodations for their low vision.[51] This would include assistive devices, such as magnifiers, enlarged printed material, writing in large letters on the blackboard, and seating children with albinism in the front of the classroom.

Gloria, a 14-year-old student with albinism who wants to become an engineer and build airplanes said she had different experiences in public and private schools: “Before, I was going to a public school. I didn’t like it there because there was no good care. In class, the teachers would be writing with small letters on the blackboard. I’d ask them to make the letters bigger, but they’d say that they can’t,” she told Human Rights Watch. “[The private school] was better. They wrote with big letters on the board – it was easier for me to follow the classes and get good grades.” [52]

Some public schools are taking positive steps. The principal of a Mwanza region public secondary boarding school that caters to the general public as well as to several children with disabilities and children with albinism told Human Rights Watch: “There is no segregation. All students are taught together. We have many special education teachers and they are all trained by the government. I insist that children with albinism sit at the front row and that the teachers write with big letters on the blackboards and that exams and other exercises are printed with big font for them,” he said. Yet, the resources are scarce: “We get some equipment from the ministry, but not enough. We have no monoculars [to help children with albinism see the blackboard], for instance.” [53] 

Lawrence is a shy nine-year-old boy who attends public school and his father is very proud of him. “When we took him to school for the first time, teachers were very aware of albinism, maybe they had been trained,” Charles said.[54] “The only challenge Lawrence faces is his vision. Sometimes he has difficulties reading the blackboard [but] he gets support from the teachers and sometimes they explain or move him to the front. Lawrence does very well at school and sometimes is at the first position.”[55]

It is important that all teachers be familiarized with the specific needs of students with albinism and that the schools be provided with adequate resources to ensure they can achieve their full educational potential. More efforts are also needed to sensitize family-members and communities about albinism, to ensure that children with albinism in Tanzania can thrive both inside and outside the classroom.


[1] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Regional Action Plan on albinism,” https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Albinism/Pages/AlbinismInAfrica.aspx(accessed January 25, 2019).

[2] United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, A/HRC/37/57/Add.1, January 18-March 23, 2018, para. 12, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/364/15/PDF/G1736415.pd… (accessed January 25, 2019).

[3] Tanzania’s last national census took place in 2012; Ibid, para. 15.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Lekalakala, P., Khammissa, R., Kramer, B., Ayo-Yusuf, O., Lemmer, J. and Feller, L., “Oculocutaneous Albinism and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin of the Head and Neck in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Journal of Skin Cancer, August 12, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549604/ (accessed January 25, 2019).

[6] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism,” https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/albinism/pages/iealbinism.aspx(accessed January 25, 2019).

[7] International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, “Through albino eyes, The plight of albino people in Africa’s Great Lakes region and a Red Cross response,” 2009, p.5, https://www.ifrc.org/Global/Publications/general/177800-Albinos-Report-E… (accessed January 25, 2019).

[8] Under the Same Sun, “People with Albinism and the Universal Periodic Review of Tanzania,” undated, para 3, https://uprdoc.ohchr.org/uprweb/downloadfile.aspx?filename=2699&file=Cov… (accessed January 25, 2019).

[9] AFP, “Albino attacks drop in Tanzania, but grave vandalism rises: NGO,” News24, November 16, 2017, https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/albino-attacks-drop-in-tanzania-but-g… (accessed January 25, 2019).

[10] Nicola Bartlett, “Albino baby hacked to death in Tanzania’s latest witchcraft related death,“ Mirror, February 18, 2015, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/albino-baby-hacked-death-tanzan… (accessed January 25, 2019).

[11] Human Rights Watch interview with community activist (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[12] Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.

[13] Tanzania is a republic made up of 31 regions and 169 districts. Each district operates a security committee, headed by the district commissioner, in charge of enforcing laws.

[14] Human Rights Watch interview with NGO workers, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.

[15] BBC NEWS, “Tanzania bans witchdoctors over albino attacks,” BBC, January 13, 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30794831(accessed January 25, 2019); David Smith, “Tanzania bans witchdoctors in attempt to end albino killings,” The Guardian, January 14, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/14/tanzania-bans-witchdoctors… (accessed January 25, 2019). The practice of witchcraft has been against the law since the 1928 Witchcraft Act, https://mtega.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Witchcraft-Act-Cap18-as-ame… (accessed January 28, 2018).

[16] BBC NEWS, “Tanzania albino murders: ‘More than 200 witchdoctors’ arrested,” BBC, March 12, 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-31849531 (accessed January 25, 2019).

[17] Human Rights Watch interview with community activist (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[18] “Just Kids 2016/2017 – The girl with the white skin”, video clip, YouTube, February 13, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQZgW8DUCs0 (accessed January 25, 2019).

[19] Human Rights Watch interview with Augustin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[20] Human Rights Watch interviews with A.Y. and Z.M. (pseudonym), the parents of Victoria (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[21] Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.

[22] Human Rights Watch interview with community activist (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[23] Human Rights Watch separate interviews with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017; Severin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017; and A.Y. and Z.M. (names withheld), Tanzania, July 2017.

[24] Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[25] Human Rights Watch interview with Severin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[26] Human Rights Watch interviews with A.Y. and Z.M. (names withheld), parents of Victoria, Tanzania, July 2017.

[27] Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[28] Human Rights Watch interview with Lucy (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[29] Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.

[30] Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of one NGO working in this field (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[31] Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of one NGO working in this field (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[32] Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Mwanzi (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[33] Human Rights Watch interview (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[34] Human Rights Watch interview with Marco Ndimo (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[35] Human Rights Watch interview with A.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[36] Human Rights Watch interview with J.P.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[37] Jesse Mikofu, “Children living with albinism start reuniting with families,” The Citizen, March 20, 2018, https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/Children-living-with-albinism-start-re… (accessed January 25, 2019).

[38] Human Rights Watch interview with K.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[39] Human Rights Watch interview with Maria (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[40] Human Rights Watch interview with K.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[41] Human Rights Watch interview with Lucy (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[42] Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Mwanzi (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with A.Y. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Z.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[45] Human Rights Watch interview with L.A. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Human Rights Watch interview with NGO workers (pseudonyms), Tanzania, July 2017.

[48] Human Rights Watch interview with K.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[49] Human Rights Watch interview with Laura (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[50] Human Rights Watch interview with Lucy (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[51] Human Rights Watch separate interviews with Gloria (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017; and Laura (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[52] Human Rights Watch interview with Gloria (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[53] Human Rights Watch interview with A.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[54] Human Rights Watch interview with Charles (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.

[55] Ibid.

Source: “It Felt Like A Punishment”: Growing Up with Albinism in Tanzania

Malawi: ‘End the ongoing atrocities against people with albinism’, say UN rights experts

Published: February 8, 2019
By: UN News

UNICEF/Julio Dengucho
Ritual killings and egregious human rights violations of the worst kind are instigated specifically against persons with albinism ­– UN experts

After a recent “savage” killing and the abduction of a one-year-old baby in Malawi, United Nations experts have urged the Government to take immediate action to protect people with albinism and “end the ongoing atrocities”.

“We urge the authorities to step up their investigations into these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the experts said in a statement on Friday.

People with albinism are born with lighter than normal skin, hair and eye colour, making them sensitive to the sun and bright light.  In some communities they are attacked or even killed for their body parts which are erroneously believed to possess magical powers.

Since 2014, 150 cases of killings, attacks and other human rights violations against persons with albinism have been reported in the southeast African nation. (Italics added by the webmaster, FVDK).

Despite various moves to support people with albinism, “the recent attacks demonstrate that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to end the ongoing atrocities,” according to the experts.

“We call on the Government to urgently address the root causes of these attacks and to strengthen nationwide campaigns to raise awareness, conduct robust investigations and prosecutions in all cases, increase protection for victims, and finance and implement all necessary measures,” stressed the experts.

UN experts fear that presidential and legislative elections due to take place in late May, could further aggravate the situation for persons with albinism. Killings and attacks often spike during election periods “because of false beliefs that their body parts can bring good luck and political power when used in witchcraft-related rituals,” the UN human rights experts said.

Some witchcraft practices result in “serious human rights violations”, such as torture, murder, discrimination and exclusion, including banishment from communities, they added.

“These two incidents are part of a larger disturbing pattern in Malawi where ritual killings and egregious human rights violations of the worst kind are instigated specifically against persons with albinism,” they underscored. “The attacks and violations are astonishing in their brutality.”

“We call on the authorities to ensure the deployment of adequate police and law enforcement personnel to protect persons with albinism where they live,” the experts concluded.

The pattern of attacks prompted the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, to reiterate the need to follow the concrete recommendations she made, following her 2016 visit to the country.

The experts also expressed concern at the reported backlog of cases of human rights violations and crimes against persons with albinism, noting that to date, there have been very few prosecutions, giving the impression of impunity.

The statement was issued by Ms. Ero; Catalina DevandasSpecial Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Agnes CallamardSpecial Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executionsand  Nils MelzerSpecial Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Source: ‘End the ongoing atrocities’ against people with albinism in Malawi, say UN rights experts

Related article: UN condemns killing of person with albinism, Yasin Phiri
Published: January 4, 2019
By: UN Country Team in Malawi

Lilongwe, January 4, 2019: 

The United Nations in Malawi is concerned by the continued gruesome attacks on persons with albinism and strongly condemns the savage killing of Yasin Phiri, aged 54, at Kande in Nkhata Bay on the eve of the new year. The UN is also concerned that there has not been progress to trace 12-year old Joseph Kachingwe who went missing on 6th July 2018.

This latest attack and other violations perpetrated against persons with albinism are a setback to the concerted efforts in the protection of people with albinism.

The UN once again calls upon the Government and all relevant stakeholders to redouble their efforts to effect immediate measures to protect persons with albinism as we go towards elections and implement the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism. The plan addresses the root causes of attacks on persons with albinism, including a nationwide awareness raising campaign, strengthened investigations and prosecutions, together with strengthened protection and victim assistance measures. If these measures are not accelerated, we will continue registering human rights violations against persons with albinism.

We urge the authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Yasin Phiri, and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. We further call upon the authorities to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of outstanding cases on violation of rights of persons with albinism to avoid cultivating a culture of impunity in Malawi.

The UN remains committed to supporting the Government and people of Malawi to proactively promote and protect the rights of persons with albinism and ensure their full participation in the protection measures and socio-economic development of the country in an environment free of stigma, discrimination and physical attacks.

Mr. Benoit Thiry
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Malawi

Also read:
Ms. Ikponwosa Ero, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism

Ms. Ikponwosa Ero (Nigeria) was designated in June 2015 as the first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. The vision of Ms. Ero’s mandate is driven by the cross-cutting principle of the UN Sustainable development goals:  “leaving no one behind…starting with the furthest behind first.” Ms. Ero has over a decade of experience in the research, policy development, and practice of human rights concerning persons with albinism. She has advised organizations and governments around the world on human rights concerning persons with albinism. As the International Advocacy and Legal Officer for Under the Same Sun — an international organization with a focus on albinism — she developed strategic initiatives involving regional and international human rights mechanisms, prepared guiding documents, and oversaw the implementation of recommendations made by the UN and other human rights organizations.  Ms Ero is also the author of numerous papers and articles, particularly with regards to applicable legal frameworks as well as the development and implementation of special measures to facilitate the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

Tanzania: Girl, 7, found dead as child killers spill more blood

Published: February 3, 2019
By: Godfrey Kahango @TheCitizenTz news@thecitizen.co.tz

Matembwe villagers in Njombe District prepare to lower the coffin carrying the body of Racheal Malekela in the grave during her burial yesterday. She was killed by unidentified people on Friday night. PHOTO | GODFREY KAHANGO 

Njombe. Another child, Rachael Malekela was found dead on Friday night at Matembwe Village in Njombe District as the spate of reported ‘ritual’ could killings and appearances continues to rock the area. More below.

Another example of ‘mob justice’ – another sign of a weak state and ‘rule of law’

Source: Girl, 7, found dead as child killers spill more blood

Related article:
4 killed over suspicion of ‘murdering’ 7 year old girl in Njombe

Published: February 2, 2019
By: Godfrey Kahango @TheCitizenTz gkahango@tz.nationmedia.com

Related article:
Njombe mother appeals for help to find missing son
Published: February 2, 2019
By: Godfrey Kahango @TheCitizenTz gkahango@tz.nationmedia.com

(………)

(……..)

(……..)

Another related article:
Child killings in Njombe associated with witchcraft beliefs, says government
Published: January 30, 2019
By: Alex Malanga @ChiefMalanga amalanga@tz.nationmedia.com

Home affairs minister Mr Kangi Lugola 

Related:
UN condemns killing of children in Tanzania
Published: January 29, 2019
By: The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTz news@tz.nationmedia.com

UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania Mr Alvaro Rodriguez
Freedom of fear is a human right. The rule of law an obligation of the state
(Webmaster FVDK)

Related:
Tanzania: How family lost three children in suspected ritual killings
Published: January 29, 2019
By: The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Njombe Region – Tanzania

Zambia: Albino Doctor murdered in Kapiri

As explained below, this is not with certainty a ritual murder case. We have to be careful not to judge too quickly and only accept clear facts before   concluding that another albino person has become victim of superstition. Unfortunately, there are too many examples in Zambia and other African countries that the life and safety of a person living with albinism are in danger and are being threatened on a daily basis. This explains the reaction of the Albino Community in Zambia. People have a right to live without fear. That’s a human right. (webmaster FvdK). 

Published: January 15, 2019
By: Chris Phiri 

Masked criminals have killed a medical Doctor Lewis Chola, an albino person who was attached to the Cancer Diseases Hospital in Lusaka in circumstances that has shocked his family and send fears to the Albino Community in Zambia.

The masked assailants abducted Dr. Chola, from his home in Kalingalinga in the evenings on 3rd January, 2019.

Information gathered suggest that the abductors later demanded for a 5000 Kwacha ransom from his Family before killing him and dumped his body near a Lodge in Kapiri Mposhi.

The deceased body had no parts missing to suggest that his killing could be a ritual murder but the Albino Community through Gift Sakala, a representative of the Albino Multipurpose corporative, the Zambia Police has been called upon to thoroughly investigate the matter.

Source: Albino Doctor murdered in Kapiri

Kapiri Mposhi District – Zambia

Nigeria: Yahoo ritualists narrate how they killed DELSU first-class student Elozino Ogege

Published: November 29, 2018
by: Motolani Alake

Warning: You are about to read graphic details of the ritual killing of Elozino Ogege

Elozino Ogege
She approached them that she was looking for a house and they exploited her.

A few weeks ago, Pulse reported the death of Elozino Joshualia Ogege, a 300 Level First Class student of Mass Communication at Delta State University, after she was missing for two days. It was one of the many bad news emanating from DELSU over the past few weeks. 

When her body was found, her tongue and breasts were missing. Upon a search, it was revealed that two yahoo boys and a security guard had been arrested as suspects to her death. Today, the suspects, chief of whom is Onosa security guard have confessed to killing Ogege in graphic details.

According to Punch Metro Onos narrated, “I was contacted by Desmond (one of the Yahoo boys) and another to provide a female student for Yahoo ritual.

“So when Elozino approached me that she was looking for accommodation, I saw it as a good opportunity. I contacted Desmond who told me to tell her to come back the next day. So the next day, they brought a Toyota Corolla car; and when Elozino came, they used something on her face which made her unconscious.

“We took her to a bush where we first plucked out one of her eyes while she was still alive. She was even crying and begging us to forgive her and let her go, but we plucked the other eye, removed her breast and heart before she died.”

Onos also implicated one Uche Nwaosisi, his supervisor whom he revealed posted him to DELSU to carry out ritual killings like this. While Onos claims this is the fifth killing they have jointly perpetrated, he insisted that Ogege was the first killing around DELSU and Abraka. The first four victims were abducted at Oghara, Delta State, according to Onos.

Nwaosisi, employed by a security company attached to the DELSU, denied all the allegations.

Onos adds, “Each time we kill, we remove the vital organs and take to the herbalist Robinson, who usually would ask us to come back. Robinson used to burn the heart and pound it to make powder substance out of it. It is the powder that he gives us, which we apply before speaking to our victims to make money from them. Any big woman we approach obliges us and provides money for us.”

Reports claim that the second Yahoo boy slumped and died as the Police . Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Aniamaka, revealed the suspects will soon be arraigned in court.

Source: Yahoo ritualists narrate how they killed DELSU first-class student

Related article:

3 days after DELSU student was declared missing, she is found dead with tongue and breast missing

This infamy happened three days after she was declared missing.

Published: November 19, 2018 – Refreshed November 20, 2018
By: Motolani Alake

A few weeks ago, Pulse reported the death of a beautiful woman with vital organs missing, while a wailing child was beside her. Three days ago, “missing” posts and news surfaced across Twitter and Facebook that Delta State University student Elozino Ogege could not be found. 

Over the past 24 hours, news made the rounds that Elozino Ogege had been found by residents along Ekrejeta road in Abraka Community, Ethiope-East Local Government Area of Delta State with her tongue and breasts missing.

According to Wuzup Naija, Delta State Acting Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Aniamaka said, “The family of the girl is going through excruciating pain. They have not been informed.”

With the complaints of ritual killings, murder, kidnappings, armed robbery, rape, and other issues on the rise in that vicinity, students suspect Ogege might have been killed for ritual purposes.

Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Comrade Prince Kehinde-Taiga used the Daily Post to call for the redeployment of the state Commissioner of Police, CP Muhammad Mustafa whom he says has been sleeping on duty while atrocities have continued raging.

Taiga says, “The perpetrators must be brought to book without any form of compromise. The CP must wake up from his slumber because justice must be served.”

Investigations are still ongoing.

Source: 3 days after DELSU student was declared missing, she is found dead with tongue and breast missing

Nigeria – Delta State (in red)

Previous ritual murders, attacks targeting albinos in Burundi

Burundi has an ugly past with respect to the safety of people living with albinism – like other countries in the region, e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Swaziland. I have counted more than 20 registered (!) attacks on albinos in Burundi since 2008, often deadly, but very likely the real number is much higher. Arrest of culprits and prosecution of accused are rare, possibly because of – according to rumors – the involvement of politically powerful people and rich businessmen and because some murderers commit their heinous crimes on command of principals in neighboring countries, notably Tanzania.

I have reproduced a number of these murders and other incidents. Burundi is a francophone country and many articles are in French. Therefore I have provided a summary in English of the French reports and articles. Unfortunately, a number of articles have disappeared from the web since 2008.

I have omitted ritualistic murders committed before 2008 in the overview presented below.

Ritual murder of albinos back again!
(In French)
Summary in English:
After one year of no murders, a 15-year old albino girl named Chantal has been found murdered in the Kabezi community, south of the capital Bujumbura, on May 6. Her death and mutilation brings the total number of reported cases since 2008 to over 20.
(…..)
According to the president of the organization ‘Albinos without borders’ (‘Albinos sans Frontières’) the killers slit the girl’s throat and dismembered her. A neighbor, Kassim Kazungu, affirms that Chantal is the 18th person murdered for ritual purposes in the community since 2008. The government of Burundi is blamed for doing nothing to protect its citizens and for being too passive after the escape from prison of a number of convicted ritual killers.
(….)

The original article, in French:

Le retour du meurtre d’albinos

Published: May 7, 2012
By: RFI

Au Burundi, après une année d’accalmie, un albinos a été tué dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche 6 mai dans la commune de Kabezi, au sud de Bujumbura. Chantal, une jeune fille albinos de 15 ans a été tuée par un groupe de criminels, puis affreusement mutilée. L‘association Albinos sans frontière, qui a déjà dénombré une vingtaine de crimes rituels d’albinos depuis 2008, condamne et met le gouvernement en face de « ses responsabilités ».

Ces tueurs, armés d’un fusil, de machettes et de lances, sont d’abord passés au domicile des parents de la jeune fille albinos, une dizaine de kilomètres au sud de Bujumbura. Ils ont obligé sa mère à les accompagner chez un de ses fils, où la jeune Chantal avait trouvé refuge.

Sous la menace, la mère a demandé à son fils de lui ouvrir, qui tout naturellement s’est exécuté. La suite est racontée par le président de l’association Albinos sans frontière, sur place hier matin. « Ils ont pris la fillette. Deux kilomètres après, ils ont égorgé la fillette, et ils ont décapité ses jambes et ses bras, on a trouvé la fillette jetée dans un fossé par ces malfaiteurs ».

Frustration, colère, désarroi. « Le choc est rude  », explique Kassim Kazungu après ce meurtre, le dix-huitième qui touche sa communauté en moins de quatre ans au Burundi, d’autant explique-t-il, que tous les assassins d’albinos, condamnés et regroupés dans la prison de Ruyigi dans l’est du Burundi, se sont évadés en 2011.

« Depuis 2008 au mois d’août jusqu’aujourd’hui, nous comptons dix-huit enfants albinos déjà massacrés. Nous pensons que l’Etat est impuissant, parce que s’il était puissant, à Ruyigi comme vous le savez, il y avait dix-huit personnes qui étaient condamnées, mais aujourd’hui il n’y a plus personne. Tous se sont évadés de la prison et nous, nous pensons que c’est eux-mêmes qui continuent ces massacres d’albinos. Nous demandons à l’Etat – où sont ces gens là qui avaient été condamnés à cause des massacres d’albinos ? »

Très gênées, plusieurs autorités burundaises contactées par RFI ont refusé de s’exprimer, en se réfugiant derrière le secret de l’instruction.

Source: Burundi : le retour du meurtre d’albinos

Then…. two years later:

Another ritual murder of an albino child in Burundi:
Nouveau meurtre rituel d’un albinos au Burundi

Albino children in parts of Africa are targeted by groups who believe their body parts bring luck (stock image)

Published: October 4, 2010
By: RFI Afrique / RFI

A 8-year old boy has been found dead and mutilated in the province of Ruyigi, near Tanzania. This brings the
total to eight murdered albinos and one still missing in the past four months.
(…)
Last May a 28-year old mother together with her 4-year oldd son were killed and mutilated for ritual purposes in the community of Cendajuru, also near the Tanzanian border.
(…)
SInce September 2008 14 albinos have been murdered in Burundi.
(…)

The original article:

Les albinos du Burundi sont sous le choc. Il y a un peu plus de 48 heures, un garçon albinos de 8 ans a été tué puis démembré, alors que les autorités pensaient avoir mis fin à ces crimes rituels qui avaient frappé jusqu’ici la province de Ruyigi, frontalière de la Tanzanie. Le président de l’association Albinos sans frontière du Burundi, Kassim Kazungu, exprime la terreur qui anime désormais les albinos et entend agir pour ne plus voir ce genre de crime.

Au Burundi, six albinos ont été tués et un septième porté disparu au cours des quatre derniers mois. Chacun des membres de cette communauté vit désormais dans la terreur d’être le prochain sur la liste. Aujourd’hui, des dizaines d’albinos ont fui leurs collines pour les villes où la sécurité est mieux assurée.

Selon Kassim Kazungu président de l’association Albinos sans frontière du Burundi  « il y a au moins 80 albinos qui sont déplacés de chez eux. Ils sont regroupés dans les chefs-lieux de communes et chefs-lieux de provinces».

Mais jusqu’ici, assure le président de l’association des Albinos sans frontière du Burundi, seules quelques associations leur viennent en aide alors que certains responsables administratifs menacent de chasser ces albinos. Kassim Kazungu affirme que « le gouvernement burundais ne fait rien, seulement des promesses et qu’il ne tient pas ».

Après ce nouvel assassinat d’un jeune albinos, un garçon de 8 ans tué à coups de machette puis amputé de ses bras et jambes, Kassim Kazungu ne décolère pas. Il appelle le pouvoir burundais à prendre exemple sur le voisin tanzanien où l’on est parvenu à mettre fin à ces assassinats rituels.

« En Tanzanie, le président lui-même a pris la situation en main. Les albinos de Tanzanie sont mieux traités, dit-il. Alors pourquoi pas chez nous ? Je demande alors au chef de l’Etat d’aider ces albinos. Si nous ne sommes pas les enfants de cette nation qu’on nous renvoie là d’où nous sommes venus ».

Huit personnes accusées au Burundi d’assassinats et tentatives d’assassinats d’albinos ont été condamnées à des peines allant de un an de prison à la perpétuité en juillet 2009.

L’ONG canadienne « Under the same sun » (Sous le même soleil) a dénoncé en mai dernier l’assassinat et la mutilation le 2 mai d’une mère de 28 ans et de son fils de 4 ans, tous deux albinos, dans la commune de Cendajuru, près de la frontière tanzanienne, portant à 14 le nombre d’albinos tués au Burundi depuis septembre 2008. Ces albinos auraient été victimes d’un trafic d’organes vers la Tanzanie voisine où certaines parties de leurs corps serviraient à confectionner des charmes qui apportent la richesse à leurs possesseurs.

De son côté, le chanteur Salif Keita préside l’Association solidarité pour l’insertion des albinos du Mali. La mission de cette structure est de chercher des solutions aux problèmes que rencontrent les albinos dans la société. Son action se fonde sur l’égalité des chances et la solidarité.

Les albinos souffrent d’une maladie génétique caractérisée par une absence de pigmentation de la peau, des poils, des cheveux et des yeux. Ils sont victimes de discriminations dans de nombreuses régions d’Afrique.

Source: Nouveau meurtre rituel d’un albinos au Burundi


Jail over Burundi albino killings
Published: July 23, 2009, 6:23 GMT
By: BBC News

One person has been sentenced to life in prison and eight others to jail in Burundi over the murder of albinos whose remains were sold for witchcraft.

Three other suspects were acquitted by the court in Ruyigi province over the the killings of at least 12 albinos.

The victims were mutilated and their body parts sold in neighbouring Tanzania for use in potions.

In addition to the killing of albinos in Burundi, more than 40 have been killed in Tanzania.

In addition to the life sentence, those convicted were jailed for between one and 15 years.

The trial is believed to be the first linked to a spate of albino killings in East Africa since 2007.

Witchdoctors in the region claim potions made with albino body parts will bring those who use them luck in love, life and business.

An association campaigning for the rights of albinos in Burundi says the authorities are now taking the killings seriously, but more needs to be done.

At least 200 people have been arrested over the trade in Tanzania, but none has been convicted.

Source: Jail over Burundi albino killings


Regional parliament decries albino killings

Published: May 30, 2009
By: The Citizen, Tanzanian online newspaper

The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has decried the killing of albinos in the region and urged “tougher measures” to stop the ritual murders and protect albinos. (…) At the ongoing meeting of the regional parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, MPs from the five EAC member states called for regional cooperation to protect albinos victimised by superstitious fortune seekers.
(…)
The killings are rampant in some parts of Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
(…)
The legislators said while “considerable progress” had been made on human rights issues in the EA region, the current killings and hostility portrayed towards the albino community showed there was still a long way to go in achieving the full respect for human rights.

Source: Regional parliament decries albino killings
Unfortunately, the original article has disappeared from the web.


Alleged albino killers on trial in East Africa

Published: March 20, 2009 (updated 12:23 am)
By: Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan

Eleven people accused of murdering 12 albinos in East Africa have gone on trial.

A recent spate of albino killings has seen at least 50 people across East Africa murdered and those on trial in Burundi are accused of killing 12 of them.

There is a widespread belief in the region that African albinos, who lack pigment in their skin and appear white, are cursed.

Some witchdoctors have encouraged the killings and police believe body parts are traded for use in witchcraft.

Human rights campaigners have accused police of failing to act on the murders.

Two hundred people connected to the trade in body parts have been arrested in Tanzania but no one has been convicted.

Source: Alleged albino killers on trial in East Africa


Burundian albino murders denied
Published: May 19, 2009
By: BBC News


The trial has begun in Burundi of 11 defendants accused of attacking and killing 12 albino people, starting with the murder of a young girl.

It is thought to be the first trial linked to the recent spate of albino killings in East Africa, which has claimed more than 50 lives.

The 11 denied charged of murder and attempted murder.

Police believe albino body parts are smuggled out of Burundi and sold in Tanzania, to be used in witchcraft.

Magic potions

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to life in prison.

Witchdoctors in the region tell clients that potions made with albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

In addition to the killing of albinos in Burundi, more than 40 albinos have been killed in Tanzania.

An association campaigning for the rights of albinos in Burundi says the authorities are now taking the killings seriously, but more needs to be done.

At least 200 people have been arrested over the trade in Tanzania, but none has been convicted.

Source: Burundian albino murders denied


Burundi: Progress in the ‘albino cases’

Translated:

Burundi: Des progrès dans les “affaires d’albinos”

Published: March 15, 2009
By: ? (see: ‘Source’)

Huit personnes trouvées à leurs domiciles en possession d’ossements humains censés provenir d’albinos assassinés ont été arrêtés dans la province de Ruyigi, dans l’est du Burundi. Selon le parquet local, les personnes interpellées ont été dénoncées par deux autres suspects arrêtés ayant avoué avoir assassiné deux albinos.

Deux pays d’Afrique des Grands Lacs notamment – le Burundi et la Tanzanie voisine – connaissent ces derniers mois une vague de meurtres rituels d’albinos alimentée par un commerce macabre. Les organes d’individus souffrant d’albinisme – absence de pigments colorants de la peau – sont très recherchés des sorciers et autres fétichistes parce qu’ils sont censés porter chance en amour et en affaires notamment.

Source: Burundi: Des progrès dans les “affaires d’albinos”
Unfortunately, the original French article has disappeared from the web.


Burundi arrests eight for albino killings

Published: March 15, 2009
Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana, editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura / Reuters

BUJUMBURA, March 15 (Reuters) – Burundi has arrested eight people found with human bones suspected of belonging to albinos, a government official said on Sunday.

The tiny east African nation and neighbouring Tanzania have been convulsed by a spate of ritual albino murders fuelled by a body parts trade. Witchdoctors tell clients that albino parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

“Before arresting them, we did a search and found human bones in their houses,” said Nicodeme Gahimbare, a public prosecutor in the eastern Ruyigi province.

“The eight were denounced by two other detained people who have already confessed to killing two albinos,” Gahimbare said.

Albinism is a condition that causes a lack of pigment in the eyes, skin or hair, which makes patients especially vulnerable to skin cancer and burns, and makes life particularly difficult in sun-drenched Africa.

Since last year, 11 albinos have been killed in Burundi. Forty others have been murdered in Tanzania since mid-2007.

Kazungu Kassim, the head of a Burundi albino association, said: “Authorities have now realised that the killing of albinos is a serious matter which needs concrete action.

“We urge the government to double efforts in protecting albinos, because what we are witnessing here is a planned extermination of the albino community.”

There are about 200 albinos in the nation of 8 million people.

Source: Burundi arrests eight for albino killings


Albino boy killed
Un garçon albinos tué

Stock image

This article is only available in French. It is preceeded by a short abridged version in English.

Bujumbura (AFP) – Another albino boy was murdered, this time in the Muruta community, in Kayanza Province (about 90 km north of the capital Bujumbura. “The people of the region found the body of a boy of eight or ten years old who was killed and whose legs and arms had been cut off. (….)”. On February 24, a six-year-old boy had been murdered and dismembered in the same Kayanza Province.

The recent killing brings the total number of ritual murders of albinos to nine in the past five moths.
(…)

Below the original French version:

Burundi: un garçon albinos tué

Published: March 9, 2009

Bujumbura (AFP) — Un garçon albinos a été tué et mutilé dans le nord du Burundi, dernier cas d’une série de meurtres rituels visant les albinos dans ce pays et en Tanzanie voisine, a-t-on appris lundi de source administrative. Ce nouveau meurtre a eu lieu dans la commune de Muruta, dans la province de Kayanza (environ 90 km au nord de la capitale Bujumbura).
“La population a découvert hier (dimanche) le corps d’un garçon albinos de huit à dix ans, qui a été tué et dont les bras et les jambes ont été coupés”, a rapporté à l’AFP Geneviève Ntawiha, administrateur de la commune de Muruta.

Unfortunately, the original French article has disappeared from the web.

Another murder case:

Au Burundi, la traque des albinos
The hunt for albinos in Burundi

This article is only available in French.
It relates of the plight of the albinos in Burundi where since September 2008 five albinos have been murdered for ritual purposes.

Nicodème Gahimbare, in Ruyigi, in the east of the country, tells how seven bandits invaded the house, and while three of them threatened the family with their AK-47, four bandits dismembered the albinos of the family – alive – in a horrific scene. They started with the arms, then the legs, and finally the head.

Au Burundi, la traque des albinos / The hunt for albinos in Burundi

Stock image

Published: December 22, 2008
By: Pierre Lepidi – ENVOYÉ SPÉCIAL BUJUMBARA (Le Monde)

Dans la région des Grands Lacs, on les appelle “les enfants du soleil” : ils portent chance. Leurs corps sont recherchés par les sorciers. Cinq meurtres ont été commis depuis septembre, dans d’effroyables conditions

Cette nuit-là, les machettes étaient aiguisées. “Sept bandits ont fait irruption dans la maison, raconte Nicodème Gahimbare, procureur de Ruyigi, province située à l’est du Burundi. Trois ont menacé la famille avec des kalachnikovs, pendant que les quatre autres découpaient l’albinos, qui était toujours vivant. Ils ont commencé par les bras puis ont tranché les jambes et enfin la tête. L’un d’entre eux recueillait le sang dans un bidon… Puis, ils sont repartis en laissant dans la pièce ce qui restait du corps.” Depuis septembre, les albinos du Burundi sont victimes d’une traque effroyable, sordide et insensée. Cinq meurtres, plus abominables les uns que les autres, ont déjà été commis. Hommes ou femmes, garçons ou fillettes, les albinos sont devenus bien malgré eux les cibles d’un marché fort lucratif.

On ne compte plus les légendes africaines qui entourent les albinos, victimes d’une maladie génétique qui se caractérise par une absence de pigmentation de la peau, des poils, des cheveux et des yeux. Mi-hommes, mi-dieux, selon les régions, leur “blancheur” pourrait apporter toutes sortes de pouvoirs, bénéfiques ou maléfiques. Au Cameroun, au Mali et dans d’autres pays du continent, on attribue à ces “enfants blancs” nés de parents noirs des forces surnaturelles. “Ici, dans la région des Grands Lacs, nous sommes considérés comme les enfants du soleil, de la chance, explique avec un air de dégoût Cassim Kazungu, président de l’Association des albinos du Burundi. Alors, certains sorciers, principalement originaires de Tanzanie, racontent que s’ils mélangent nos os et notre sang à certaines potions magiques, ils seront capables de confectionner des gris-gris pour obtenir de l’or, de la chance ou une éternelle jeunesse. On nous assassine pour des histoires de sorcellerie…”

C’est principalement sur les bords du lac Victoria que seraient nées ces légendes. Autour du plus grand lac africain, on raconte, par exemple, que verser du sang d’albinos sur une mine d’or pourrait suffire à faire jaillir des pépites, sans même avoir à creuser la terre. Chez les pêcheurs, on soutient que le fait d’appâter les eaux du lac avec un bras ou une jambe découpée sur un corps d’albinos permettrait d’attraper de gros poissons, le ventre gorgé d’or…

En attendant, c’est l’appât du gain qui nourrit ces massacres humains. “L’un des bandits qui a été arrêté après un meurtre a dit qu’on lui avait promis 1 million de franc burundais (650 euros), explique Cassim Kazungu. La peau des albinos vaut une fortune et nous sommes dans un pays où les gens ont faim… Il faudrait que le gouvernement prenne des mesures très sévères à l’encontre des tueurs.” Deux hommes ont déjà été condamnés à la peine capitale, mais celle-ci est en passe d’être abolie, ce qui accroît l’angoisse des albinos.

Sur les rives du lac Tanganyika, où l’espérance de vie est de 43 ans, où l’indice de développement humain (IDH) classe le pays à la 169e place mondiale (sur 177), la guerre civile, qui a opposé les ethnies hutu et tutsi entre 1993 et 2006, a fait près de 300 000 morts. La tension ethnique est aujourd’hui retombée et, jour après jour, la paix avance. Jeudi 4 décembre, un accord de cessez-le-feu, conclu avec tous les autres mouvements rebelles en 2006, a été signé entre le gouvernement et le FNL (Forces nationales de libération), le dernier groupe en activité. Mais les massacres ethniques ont laissé des séquelles psychologiques irréversibles, inquantifiables, et une économie en lambeaux. Le soir, dans certains quartiers de Bujumbura, la capitale, on raconte qu’il suffit de “10 000 francs “bou”” (6,50 euros) pour acheter la vie d’un homme…

C’est en Tanzanie, pays de 40 millions d’habitants qui borde le Burundi à l’est, que les premiers meurtres ont été commis. Depuis le début de l’année, il y en aurait déjà eu une trentaine, alimentant des réseaux dirigés par certains notables. Le Parlement européen a adopté, le 3 septembre, une résolution condamnant “vigoureusement” l’assassinat d’albinos dans ce pays.

Les autorités tanzaniennes ont pris des mesures de protection, comme l’instauration d’un recensement et la mise en place d’un service d’escorte pour les enfants se rendant à l’école. Le gouvernement a surtout annoncé que des sanctions très sévères, allant jusqu’à la peine de mort, seraient prises contre toute personne mêlée à ces crimes rituels. Quelques trafiquants et une cinquantaine de sorciers auraient été arrêtés dans la foulée.

L’apparition de cette traque sur le sol burundais pourrait résulter des mesures prises en Tanzanie. Les frontières sont poreuses, surtout lorsque les trafics génèrent des sommes colossales… “Le gouvernement tanzanien a agi rapidement en faisant du meurtre des albinos un crime puni de la peine capitale, a déclaré Olalekan Ajia, responsable de l’Unicef au Burundi, le 19 novembre. Du coup, les sorciers et autres charlatans sont partis pour le Burundi.” Le retour de 100 000 réfugiés burundais vivant dans des camps le long de la frontière tanzanienne est une autre hypothèse avancée.

Jusque-là épargné, le Burundi, qui recense près de 150 albinos sur une population de 8 millions d’habitants, déplore donc aujourd’hui 5 meurtres et un disparu. Début décembre, un homme en tenue militaire armé d’une machette a tenté une agression. Il a été arrêté par le père de l’albinos, qui a été sérieusement blessé lors de l’altercation. Roué de coups par les gens du village, l’agresseur est décédé le lendemain.

Les albinos du Burundi vivent la peur au ventre. “Je ne sors plus de chez moi car, même si la capitale est pour l’instant épargnée, je me sens en insécurité, lâche Pascal, 28 ans, un habitant de Bujumbura. Mais je suis bien obligé d’aller faire mes courses… Sur le trottoir, les gens disent en me regardant : “Regardez, le beau paquet d’argent qui déambule !” D’autres stoppent leur voiture à ma hauteur et me menacent : “Tu vaux l’équivalent de trois camionnettes, on va te vendre en morceaux…” Nous vivons un véritable cauchemar.” Quelques ruelles plus loin, Nathalie, 25 ans, n’est guère plus sereine. “La situation est très difficile et j’ai peur, dit-elle. Mais je suis surtout très inquiète pour ceux qui vivent à l’extérieur de la capitale.”Rien n’arrête les tueurs. Pour découper les membres d’une adolescente de 16 ans, tuée quelques jours plus tôt, certains sont allés jusqu’à déterrerdeux fois son cadavre…

Lorsque les premiers meurtres ont été commis, dans la région de Ruyigi, à mi-chemin entre Bujumbura et la frontière tanzanienne, Nicodème Gahimbare, procureur de la province, a parcouru la région pour proposeraux albinos de les héberger chez lui. L’homme a pris des risques pour assurer leur protection. Il a payé de sa poche, aussi. “Il fallait vraiment faire quelque chose pour ces gens, dit-il. Les atrocités des attaques se propageaient à travers les villages, et ils vivaient de plus en plus dans l’angoisse… Dans une même famille, je me souviens qu’il y en avait quatre ! Plus loin, un curé a accepté que je lui en confie quelques-uns… Pendant une semaine, j’en ai hébergé huit. Très vite, on a atteint la vingtaine ! Il en arrivait presque tous les jours des villages alentour…”

Le gouvernement s’est alors penché sur leur sort. Les ONG, les pouvoirs publics et la communauté internationale se sont mobilisés. L’ambassade de France a été l’une des premières à réagir en envoyant des vivres et des matelas dans la maison. L’Union européenne a fait parvenir à Ruyigi des vêtements et des chapeaux pour protéger leur peau, sur laquelle se forment des croûtes après des expositions prolongées au soleil. “Ils vivaient dans des conditions d’hygiène déplorables, confie un Français qui a fait quelques visites à Ruyigi dans un but humanitaire. La maison, qui n’avait ni eau ni électricité, possédait seulement 3 chambres. J’y ai compté 34 albinos…”

Début décembre, une nouvelle demeure a été trouvée. Elle n’est toujours pas raccordée à l’eau et à l’électricité, mais elle est plus spacieuse puisqu’elle compte 10 chambres. On y trouve 39 “enfants du soleil”, âgés de 6 mois à 62 ans, auxquels il faut ajouter 6 accompagnateurs (parents, frères ou soeurs). Le loyer est pris en charge par le gouvernement et non plus par l’Association des albinos, “dont les comptes sont totalement vides”, indique le président.

L’Etat s’est engagé à prendre à sa charge les 8 policiers, contre 4 auparavant, qui assurent la sécurité de la maison. “On pensait que la situation durerait quelques mois, mais elle perdure, déplore Nicodème Gahimbare. Un jeune albinos est retourné dans son village, mais il s’est fait attaquer dans sa propre maison. Ceux qui sont sous notre protection ont tellement peur de rentrer qu’ils ne veulent plus repartir…”

Le gouvernement burundais, avec l’appui de la communauté internationale, vient de lancer plusieurs campagnes de sensibilisation à travers le pays. Mais s’il faudra du temps pour enseigner la tolérance, il en faudra encore plus pour faire taire les croyances. “Autrefois, on disait qu’un albinos qui naissait de parents noirs portait forcément malheur, car il était l’enfant d’une mère volage, lâche Cassim Kazungu. Il était rejeté et vivait comme un marginal, un laissé-pour-compte. Maintenant, on fait croire aux gens que nous portons chance. Alors, on nous massacre !”

Source: Au Burundi, la traque des albinos


6-year-Old Albino Girl Killed for Body Parts

Published: November 19, 2008
By: ? See below (‘Source’)

The following is an excerpt from the original 2008 article which has since disappeared from the web:

(…)
In Ruyigi province, Burundi, a 6-year-old girl, named Cizanye, was murdered in front of her family because she was an albino. A gang of armed bandits broke into the family home; they tied up the girl’s parents and shot the little girl in the head. They then cut off her head and both her arms and legs and left with the body parts. The attack took place at the family’s home in Bugongo, more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the capital Bujumbura. Police said they suspected criminals of hunting albinos to sell their organs and limbs to witch doctors in Tanzania who use them for lucky charms.

“This little girl is the third albino victim of such barbaric crimes in our province since September. We are doing everything we can to find the killers,” Ruyigi province prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare said.
(…)
In the meantime, officials in eastern Burundi said that 24 albinos have fled their villages and gone into towns for fear of slaughter. Msembo said many albino children were dropping out of school for fear of being kidnapped. Many albinos have sought refuge in urban centers, which are relatively safer. She said “They are cutting us up like chickens” while pointing to a picture on a wall in her cramped office of a limbless body with the skin on its face peeled off from an incident in 2007.

Source: 6-year-Old Albino Girl Killed for Body Parts 
(linked disappeared in cyberspace)

The following BBC article refers to the same incident:


Albino girl killed for body parts

Published: November 17, 2008
By: BBC News

A six-year-old albino girl in Burundi has been found dead with her head and limbs removed, in the latest killing linked to ritual medicine.

Albinos in the region have been targeted because of a belief peddled by witchdoctors that their body parts can be used for magic potions.

The girl, who was attacked on Sunday, was the sixth person with albinism to be killed in Burundi since September.

There have also been a number of attacks in neighbouring Tanzania.

The latest attack took place in Burundi’s eastern province of Ruyigi.

The BBC’s Prime Ndikumagenge in Burundi said the child and her family had only just returned to their family home.

Armed attackers broke into the family home and tied up the girl’s parents before shooting her in the head, local officials say.

They had been among a group of about 50 people with albinism to have fled to a provincial centre because they feared for her safety.

The head of the Burundi Albinos’ Association, Kasim Kazungu, says people with albinism had not suffered any discrimination until other Burundians heard about the lucrative trade in albino body parts in neighbouring Tanzania.

Last week, police in south-western Tanzania arrested a man who was attempting to sell his albino wife to Congolese traders.

Two mothers in western Tanzania were also attacked with machetes after gangs failed to find their albino children.

Source: Albino girl killed for body parts

Albinism in Tanzania: slow progress in combatting violence and discrimination

In 2008 a wave of murders of albinos in eastern and central Africa attracted worldwide attention and condemnation even though it wasn’t the first time albinos were targeted in countries like Tanzania, Burundi and Malawi.

In June 2008, a New York Times online edition aired a news brief on albino killings in Tanzania, which caused a sensation. In July 2008, a BBC journalist, Vicky Ntetema, posed as a businesswoman who wanted to get rich quick and consulted 10 witchdoctors in Tanzania. Several witchdoctors promised to get her a magic concoction mixed with ground albino organs. The starting price was $2,000 for the vital organs. Later she had to go in hiding after receiving death threats because of her undercover work. A BBC video on the horrifying spate of killings of albinos in Tanzania, broadcast in August of the same year, was later taken off the air. Also in July Al Jazeera presented a video on the fate of albinos in Tanzania (Part 1 and Part 2). The European Union condemned the ritual murdering of albinos (September, 2008), followed by UNICEF (December, 2008). By then, according to the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS), more than 35 albinos had been killed in 2008 alone, with many other such cases unreported. For more cases, covering the 2003 – 2010 period, you’re welcome to visit my archives. Unfortunately, many links have expired. (For this reason I copy all articles and publish them on the present site while acknowledging their origin).
It’s important to mention that ‘Under The Same Sun’ founder Peter Ash estimates the total number of deadly victims to be twice the official figure in a December 3, 2008 interview. Viewers are warned that the interview can be shocking because of the graphic nature of the story.

The NGO Under The Same Sun helps people with albinism overcome often deadly discrimination through education and advocacy. UTSS was started by Peter Ash, a former pastor and Canadian businessman with albinism, and Vicky Ntetema, mentioned earlier, Tanzania’s BBC bureau chief whose report in July 2008 broke the story to the world of the gruesome murders of persons with albinism in Tanzania. UTSS was founded in 2008. Visit the impressive site of Under The Same Sun, a comprehensive site about Persons with Albinism in Tanzania.

Under The Same Sun helps people with albinism overcome often deadly discrimination through education and advocacy

The following article dates from 2015 but as forthcoming posts will also demonstrate, the fight against discrimination of people with albinism is far from over, and therefor I want to congratulate Under The Same Sun, the Tanzania Albinism Society, and other organizations supporting the same cause for their valuable work and wish them success in the future. May their work soon be no longer needed!

Published on May 13, 2015
By Daniel Wesangula
The Guardian

Around 30,000 people with albinism are thought to be living in Tanzania. Photograph: Ana Palacios

Albinos live with the risk of being killed, their body parts fetching high prices for witchcraft – but NGOs hope that change is coming.

“This is possibly the worst time to be a person living with albinism in Tanzania,” says Amir Manento.

In October, citizens will go to the polls to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections. “Every election period brings with it a new cycle of killings. In between we have other smaller elections translating to more abductions, more killings.” Manento, a retired judge and human rights activist, has been at the forefront of campaigning for the rights of people living with albinism for decades. “We see an increase of witchcraft and the use of human body parts, particularly albino body parts, in the run-up to the general elections.” Albino body parts are associated with good luck, and as the country gears up for the elections, the demand for good luck charms goes up. Sacrifices during this time are thought by some to be a sure way of guaranteeing victory in the polls.

“Albino hunting came into the limelight around 10 years ago, particularly within the fishing and mining communities,” says Dr Benson Bana, a political science and public administration lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam. Bana believes that some of the roots of the problem lie in the financial downturn in the area around Lake Victoria, one of the regions where there have been the most killings and abductions.

“A certain poverty touched our people after the privatisation of fishing activities in Lake Victoria,” says Bana. “Everything was being controlled, from where one could fish to the size of the holes in his fishing net. The result was diminished harvests. Every above-average catch by the little guys was then attributed to superstition. This is when witchdoctors started peddling the belief that people living with albinism or their body parts, most of whom coincidentally live in these regions, could be used as good luck charms.”

Bana believes that this devastating association was then passed on to neighbouring mining communities. “Eventually it caught wind and was looked upon as a legitimate way of acquiring riches and power by some individuals. Hence the association with politicians.”

Tanzania is thought to have one of the world’s largest populations of people living with albinism, a congenital disorder that robs skin, eyes and hair of their pigment. But for years this population of about 30,000 people has existed under the threat of abductions and ritual killings, and in recent years the situation appears to have worsened.

According to a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a complete set of Albino body parts – including all four limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose – can fetch up to $75,000 (pdf).

The Tanzania Albinism Society says it is almost impossible to know the numbers of those abducted or killed since the beginning of the year. What they are sure of, though, is that the number of victims will be higher than the two cases that made it into police records in 2013.

“Even last year the numbers might have been higher because these crimes are very intimate. Mostly a close family member, even a father, is involved in the killings and abductions. In such cases silence wins; his wife will probably be an accomplice in the crime. Nothing will be said of the matter again and the police will have no chance of prosecuting anyone,” says Severin Edward, programme coordinator for the Tanzanian Albinism Society.

A total of 155 cases of violation of albino rights have been reported to Tanzanian authorities since 2009, according to a study (pdf) released in March by Under The Same Sun, an NGO working to combat discrimination against people with albinism.

“Of these cases, 75 were deaths. We have also received 18 reports of grave violations,” said Don Sawatzky, director of operations for UTSS. The study, which gathered together data from 25 different countries in Africa, found reports of 145 albino killings, in addition to 226 violations that include mutilations, other forms of violence, and kidnappings.

UTSS has been actively pushing the United Nations for four key resolutions aimed at ending all forms of discrimination of people living with albinism.

A total of 155 cases of violation of albino rights have been reported to Tanzanian authorities since 2009.
Photograph: Ana Palacios

However, Sawatzky argues that to describe the killings as a phenomenon propelled by recent economic hardship would be “to accept the easy answer”.
“Nobody really knows the origin of the killings, since documentation in Africa is not common other than through oral tradition. All we know for sure is that albinism has been ‘mythologised’ since time beyond memory. Muti murders, or ‘medicine’ killings, have a deep, longstanding history, and are a familiar concept to most Africans,” he says. In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the nation’s first albino member of parliament, Isaac Mwaura, says it is time measures are put in place to end these killings and abductions, and that existing laws need to be adhered to by all affected countries.

“Kenya has strict trafficking laws, the same as Tanzania. What makes it possible for criminals to take our children, mothers, fathers or brothers across borders and sell them off like commodities to witch doctors? Enforcement of laws is one of the weakest links in this war. We have become the hunted. Neither we nor our children are safe. Fathers are betraying their children’s trust and selling them off like unwanted baggage. Mothers are conspiring to traffic their own flesh and blood to senseless deaths.”

In Tanzania the government has been working with NGOs and civil society, and results are now being seen. “Never before have we seen so much effort from the government and the general public. At least we are now getting convictions, primarily because investigations are more thorough and new laws are being set up,” says Manento. “Although no executions have taken place, a total of 17 individuals have received the death sentence, some of them as recently as March, when four individuals, including the husband of the murdered victim, were convicted,” he said.

To win this war, NGOs at the forefront believe collusion within the community must come to an end. “We must educate families to understand that having such a child is not a gateway to quick riches. We then encourage the rest of the community to speak up,” says Edward. “The society needs to be more empowered and supported to co-operate. For instance, when family members are involved in killings or abductions it is quite difficult to get witnesses, because even they are not assured of their security.”

Sawatzky also believes that the war will be won, just not in the near future. “Like all forms of discrimination, it will take several generations to achieve. I will not see the war won in my lifetime. The youth and future generations are the best answer to this war,” he said.

More community sensitisation needs to be achieved, says Justus Kamugisha, regional police chief in Shinyanga, in the north of the country. “We need to make our people understand that there are no shortcuts to prosperity. Only hard, honest work pays. Taking the life of someone else, regardless of his condition, is simply murder, for which you will be charged.”

Source: The Guardian, May 13, 2015

More:

Albinism in Tanzania: safe havens in schools and support centers – in pictures
Photographs by Ana Palacios – May 13, 2015

Tanzania bans witchdoctors in attempt to end albino killings,
The Guardian, January 14, 2015

Tanzania albino murders: ‘More than 200 witchdoctors’ arrested
BBC, March 12, 2015

Witchcraft and the law in Tanzania
The Guardian, September 26, 2008

Fear of ritual killings grows in Swaziland

Richard Rooney’s blog on Swazi Media Commentary, Information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland is one of te best, if not the best, source of information on Swaziland and the archaic rule of king Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland.

The site contains precious information and commentary about human rights in Swaziland.

Fear of being kidnapped and killed for ritual purposes made 258 children of the Mafutseni Children’s Care Point stay home on Monday.

Published: Thursday, 14 June 218

BY RICHARD ROONEY
SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY – INFORMATION AND COMMENTARY ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN SWAZILAND

Something close to panic has gripped Swaziland / Eswatini as the fear that children will be kidnapped and ritually murdered has taken hold.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (14 June 2018) that 258 children absconded from school at Mafutseni Children’s Cup Care Point in fear of being kidnapped and killed.

It reported one of the teachers Zine Mkhwanazi told a meeting of parents children were afraid to go to the school because of an incident in May where a 16-year-old boy escaped from three knife-wielding men who had cornered him in a forest and tried to slice his throat in what was believed to be a ritual murder attempt. The boy escaped and was admitted to hospital.

The newspaper reported Mkhwanazi said what happened scared everyone, more so, because the attempt on the boy was made at a spot children pass on their way to school.

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (12 June 2018) that parents were now trailing their children wherever they go. ‘It is said some of the parents even accompany their children to Sunday school, just to make sure prowling killers do not go near them,’ it reported. Parents also go with their children to school.

This has happened after reports, many unconfirmed, that children across Swaziland are being abducted and ritually murdered. Body parts are then said to be used in muti to create spells to bring good luck. There is a belief that some people are doing this to help them win seats in the forthcoming National Assembly election.

The Observer quoted one concerned parent saying, ‘Elections are a curse to some of us as that’s the period where children go missing. It’s bad that such incidents are now associated with the elections and it paints a bad picture of the country because in the eyes of the world we are known as a nation where ritual murders are rife during elections.’

Another parent said, ‘There is fear that when we let our children leave school on their own, that places them in danger.’

The Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday (14 June 2018) an alleged ritual killer was assaulted by a mob and set on fire at Mafutseni. It happened after a man made a joke that his own blood was not fit to be used as muti. A mob singled him out as a ritual killer because he appeared to have knowledge about how blood was used to make spells. It added the incident happened about a month after one of the man’s relative went missing.

Source: Fear of Ritual Killings Grows, June 14, 2018