Malawi persons with albinism launch anti-killings campaign

Following a court order, presidential elections are going to be held on July 2. The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has stipulated that the official campaign period will run from May 2 to June 30. 

The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) fears that this will increase the already fragile position of people living with albinism in Malawi. History teaches us that attacks on people with albinism increase during election campaigns. The Malawian government fails to react properly. Since 2014, 171 attacks against people with albinism were carried out of which 25 persons were killed and 13 were reported missing. Hence, the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi has launched an anti-killings campaign. 
(webmaster FVDK).

Malawi persons with albinism launch anti-killings campaign

Published: March 24, 2020
By: xinhuanet.com         

The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has launched a campaign to condemn killings of people with albinism for rituals ahead of the fresh presidential polls in the country.

APAM President Ian Simbota, told local media Sunday after the launch that members of the Association fear for their lives as some study showed that persons with albinism are targeted for rituals during elections. Simbota told Xinhua Monday that as of March 23rd, 2020, APAM had recorded 171 cases of attacks against people with albinism of which 25 persons were killed and 13 were reported missing since 2014. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK)

“We received the February 3 judgement with mixed reactions because on one hand we were happy that we will be given back our ballot power but on the other hand looked at the threatening times that we always go through because of the same election exercise,” said Simbota.He said during the campaign the APAM members want to sensitize mostly political leaders to desist from beliefs that killing a person with albinism and getting their body parts for rituals can make them win an election. 

“Those things don’t exist, it’s just some evil way of thinking. We are the voters and politicians should use us as such and not as rituals; it does not work,” said Simbota.”We are a population of 134,636 people and those are the votes that we are worth,” he added. In 2015 UN Human Rights Expert on Albinism Ikponwosa Ero, linked the killings of persons with albinism in Africa to elections, saying many political hopefuls believe that body parts of persons with albinism can be used as charms for one to win an election. (bold added by the webmaster FVDK)

Source: Malawi persons with albinism launch anti-killings campaign

Malawi appoints commission to probe albino killings

Almost six months ago, in early March 2019,  President Peter Mutharika ordered an investigation into the killing and maltreatment of people living with albinism in Malawi.

I will check the outcome of the work of the commission created AND the follow-up to its report. Subsequently, I will inform the readers of this site.

To be continued (webmaster FVDK).

United Nations’ Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism Ikponwosa Ero addresses a press conference at the end of her official visit to Malawi on April 29, 2016. – Malawi’s estimated 10000 albinos “are an endangered group facing a risk of systematic extinction over time if nothing is done to stem the tide of atrocities,” a UN expert warned on today. Ikponwosa Ero, a UN independent expert told journalists at the end of her 12-day assessment of rights of albinos in Malawi that the situation “constitutes an emergency, a crisis disturbing in its proportions.” She said according to police, 65 cases of attacks, abductions and murders of albinos have been recorded since end of 2014. (Photo by Amos Gumulira / AFP)

Published: March 8, 2019
By: News Central (Nigeria)

Malawi has experienced a surge in violent attacks on people with albinism over the past four years.

Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika, on Friday appointed a commission of inquiry to probe a spate of attacks, abductions and killings of people with albinism. The panel, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Robert Chinangwa, will submit its report to Mutharika by April 30, the president’s office said.

The announcement came after mounting criticism of Mutharika for his response to the attacks. The Association of People with Albinism has been staging a vigil in the capital Lilongwe and says it will contact foreign embassies in a bid to seek refuge. Around 200 albinos, joined by 500 sympathisers, marched to the presidential palace on Wednesday.

Malawi, has experienced a surge in violent attacks on people with albinism over the past four years. In many cases, those with albinism are targeted for their body parts to be used in witchcraft.

In a June 2018 report, rights group Amnesty International said that since November 2014 there had been 148 crimes reported against people with albinism, with at least 21 deaths.
(italics added by the webmaster FVDK). Just 30 percent of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics, with only one murder and one attempted murder case successfully prosecuted.

Of the 600 cases of violence against albinos in 28 African countries, Malawi accounted for nearly a third.

Albinism, a genetic disorder, causes a partial or total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. As a result, many albinos often experience eye problems and have a heightened risk of skin cancer.

Source: Malawi appoints commission to probe albino killings

UN sending experts in Malawi to investigate killings of people with albinism – Pres Mutharika says

Published: March 19, 2019
By: MENAFN – Nam News Network

Malawi: UN Sending Experts in Malawi to Investigate Killings of People With Albinism – Pres Mutharika

(MENAFN – Nam News Network) LILONGWE, March 18 (NNN-ALLAFRICA) — President Peter Mutharika has disclosed that the United Nations (UN) will be sending two experts to investigate the attacks of persons with albinism (PWAs), tracing the root cause of the atrocities or markets. 

Mutharika made the disclosure at Joho Primary School, Nsanama in Machinga where he visited families who were affected by the continuous rains that fell between March 5 and 8 this year. 

The Malawi leader departed from his prepared consolation speech to the disaster affected communities to inform the nation that government would soon get to the bottom of the albino killings. 

“Let me make this announcement here that the United Nations is sending two experts to investigate the killings of people with albinism and to establish where the market — if any — is located,” said Mutharika. 

He condemned the attacks and killings of people with albinism describing it as: senseless acts fueled by ignorance and stupidity. 

“About 25 people have been killed so far since all this madness started; now, tell me: who has become rich because of the killings of persons with albinism for their body parts?” queried Mutharika. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

Commenting on the disaster, Mutharika assured (….)

United Nations to send experts to investigate albino killings in Malawi.
Photo courtesy Ritual Killing In Africa

Source: Malawi: UN Sending Experts in Malawi to Investigate Killings of People With Albinism – Pres Mutharika

Malawi albino ritual murders: ‘Mafia syndicate defeating justice’

Published: February 24, 2019
By: Wongani Chiuta – Nyasa Times

HRDC (Human Rights Defenders Coalition) headperson Timothy Mtambo says the State has become a suspect in the abduction of people with albinism and killing them for ritual.

Mtambo: ‘Mafia syndicate in the corridors of power’

Mtambo’s comments in the press follows preliminary findings of an autopsy for the late Buleya Luke, a key suspect in the abduction of a 14-year old albino boy Goodson Makanjira in Dedza, that has revealed he was electrocuted, then hit with metal bars. 

Another suspect in the abduction of a 18-year old baby with albinism Eunice Nkhonjera, Donald Msafiri, 61, allegedly committed suicide a day after being interrogated by police in Karonga. 

Mtambo claimed the killing of people with albinism is a result of a leadership crisis facing the country.

“This madness is happening because of leadership failure from the Commander-in-Chief, Inspector General of Police and the Minister responsible for Homeland Security. This government is a big failure and we will hold them accountable, no matter what.”, Mtambo explained in comments reported by Nation on Sunday newspaper. 

The late suspect was alleged to have offered K800 000 to buy Goodson, who is still missing in Dedza. 

Lule has become the third suspect to die while on trial related to abduction of persons with albinism since 2015. All the three cases have the police involved. In 2015, another suspect charged in connection with abduction of a two-year old girl with albinism in Machinga died in the hands of the police after he allegedly jumped from a cruising police vehicle. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

A HRDC statement made available to Nyasa Times signed by Mtambo, said these deaths [of key suspects] smack of foul-play, adding, it is too tempting to conclude that there are powerful forces orchestrating them. 

“Firstly, we strongly believe that these deaths are mafia-like planned and executed just to frustrate investigations that would lead us to alleged markets and lords behind these heinous crimes. 

“Secondly, we at HRDC and indeed all well-meaning Malawians are tempted to think that those that we have entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the perpetrators of these inhumane acts are deliberately failing to do their job,” reads the statement. 

The government is under fire for not doing enough to protect people with albinism as cases of attacks and killings continue to rise since 2014. 

Amnesty International (AI) has since taken swipe at Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi for insinuating that attacks on persons with albinism (PWA) were not yet at crisis level.

AI, a global movement of more than seven million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights, said in a statement Thursday that the ‘shameful denial comments’ are fuelling attacks against persons with albinism. 

During a news conference in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Dausi is on record to have said that the attacks on persons with albinism were yet to get to levels where they should hold vigils at State House or seek asylum in other countries. 

In the Thursday statement, AI deputy director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda said remarks by Dausi will only embolden those perpetrating the assaults and are a disturbing reminder of the government’s inaction on the issue. 

She said: “The latest comments from Minister Nicholas Dausi are yet another indication that persons with albinism in Malawi are on their own when it comes to their safety and security.”

Mwananyanda has since urged the government to promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the recent attacks against persons with albinism and ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice. 

Source: HRDC says State a suspect in Malawi albino ritual murders. ‘Mafia syndicate defeating justice.’

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.

Malawi VP Chilima: ‘Stop ritual murders of albinos’

As mentioned yesterday (Jan. 21, 2019), technical difficulties prevent me from duplicating here the original article in the Nyasa Times (the webmaster FVDK).

VP Saulos Cilima’s remarks come after unknown assailants (probably on December 31, 2018) killed 54-year old Yassin Kwenda Phiri, a person with albinism who was working as a hospital assistant at Kande Health Center in Nkhata Bay. Chilima’s UTM party has also issued a strongly worded statement condemning the murder.  Not surprisingly, Malawi will have elections in the near future, on May 23 of this year. 
Please also read the related article posted on January 21 on this site: ‘MP Kalindo threatens to reveal syndicate on albino ritual murders’.

VP Chilima: ‘Stop ritual murders of albinos’

Published: January 3, 2019
By: Nyasa Times

Source:
Security lapse worries Malawi VP Cilima: ‘Stop ritual murders of albinos’

Malawi: MP Kalindo threatens to reveal syndicate on albino ritual murders

Political opponents who throw stones to each other making allegations that have not been proven should be listened to – but they are not necessarily to be believed immediately. One such politician is Mulanje South Member of Parliament Bon Kalindo in Malawi. He was recently arrested in Lilongwe and was charged with two counts of allegedly misconduct and of insulting the president.  MP Kalindo alleges his arrest was ‘politically motivated’. A few days after his release from prison – on bail – he was assaulted and severely beaten up.

Kalindo said his arrest has taught him a lot of things including getting to know the syndicate of albino killings.  He claims that the albino killings is a syndicate and it involves senior officials with big names hence the need to stop pushing the blame on witch doctors or rituals. “I will come back to reveal everything through this program once my case is settled in court.”, he said. “I have so many revelations to make”, he added. Kalindo made history in Malawi when he led a demonstration in favour of concrete action against perpetrators of attacks on people with albinism, in what was called ‘naked’ march.      

We will continue to follow this case (webmaster FVDK).

For technical reasons the original article in the Nyasa Times could not be duplicated. The summary above is based on the Nyasa Times article of January 20 (2019), staying as close as possible to the original text. (Webmaster FVDK)

Published: January 20, 2019
By: Nyasa Times

Source: Kalindo threatens to reveal syndicate on albino ritual murders: Brands DPP as a ‘party of savages’

Campaign Amnesty International: “Malawi: Stop ritual murders of people with albinism”

The right to live without fear is a human right

Originally published: 2017; exact date unknown.
By Amnesty International

Mid-2017, Amnesty International launched a campaign ‘Stop ritual murders of people with albinism in Malawi’. Read below why.

Amnesty International:

A new wave of killings and attacks targeting people with albinism over the past six months is being fueled by systemic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system which leave members of this vulnerable group at the mercy of criminal gangs.

Since January 2017, at least two people with albinism have been killed while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction.

Albinism is a rare,non-contagious, genetic condition present at birth that results in absence of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair. It is estimated that between 7,000-10,000 people live with albinism in Malawi.

Erroneous beliefs and superstitions have put the safety and lives of people with albinism at risk, including from killings, abductions, and mutilations. Societal attitudes about albinism are not changing, and people with albinism continue to be at risk of attacks with some children being abducted and sold by family members.

Despite stronger legislation since 2016, including reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act, to tackle attacks against people with albinism, we are seeing an alarming resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group in 2017.

A new wave of killings and attacks against people with albinism emerged in January 2017, after a six month reprieve between June and December 2016.

On 28 February 2017, Mercy Zainabu Banda, a 31-year-old woman with albinism was found murdered in Lilongwe with her hand, right breast and hair removed.

On 10 January 2017, 19-year-old Madalitso Pensulo was killed after he was invited for afternoon tea at his friend’s house in Mlonda village in Thyolo District. A passer-by heard him scream, but he died before the police arrived at the scene.

The latest abduction took place on 28 May, when a nine-year-old boy, Mayeso Isaac, was taken by a gang of 10 men.

People with albinism are paying for political and social inaction with their lives. This is a matter of life and death.

We’re calling on the president of Malawi to protect people with albinism from attacks and bring the perpetrators of albinism-related crimes to justice.

Dear President Peter Mutharika,

Thousands of people with albinism live in constant fear of being abducted or killed in Malawi, where their body parts are being sold for use in ritual purposes. Ritual killings of people with albinism are influenced by superstitions and myths that their bones or body parts can bring riches.

We, the undersigned, call on you to:

  • Bring to justice the perpetrators of albinism-related crimes
  • Offer effective protections for people with albinism. Protect their right to life and right to personal security, in accordance with Malawi’s international human rights obligations and commitments.
  • Resource the police to adequately and thoroughly investigate crimes related to albinism
  • Tackle the harmful superstitious beliefs perpetuating the targeting of people with albinism.

Source: Amnesty International, 2017

Related link: Video – Hunted for their body parts

Malawi Unveil 6-Point Strategy to Foil Albino Ritual Killers

Published on: June 11, 2018

Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Cecilia Chazama: Malawi Police has a six-point safety strategy to foil albino ritual killing in the country

Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Cecilia Chazama has said Malawi Police has a six-point safety strategy to foil abduction and albino ritual killing in the country.

In a ministerial statement presenter in Parliament in Lilongwe on Fridayon the status of cases handled by the Malawi Police related to attacks on persons living with albinism, Chazama said the strategies include planting informants across the country who will provide police with tips on criminal syndicate.

Chazama said government has embarked on the strategies to ensure greater safety for people living with albinism while they enjoy their normal interactions with their community members.

The minister said community leaders will also be involved in the strategy.

In his contribution, Member of Parliament for Mulanje South Bon Kalindo suggested that people living with albinism be given their own, well-guarded village.

Kalindo said his suggestion for safe albino villages was an idea he learnt during a recent visit to Mongolia, in China, where those ostracised for their skin pigmentation problems live in special villages.

But Chazama said it was improper to isolate any group of people, even if it were for security reasons.

Source: Nyasa Times, June 11, 2018