Yesterday’s posting inspired me to draw once more attention to the plight of people with albinism in the southern African country of Malawi. The CNN article which I present below dates from June 2016. Aljazeerah published a similar article in 2017 which I posted on June 15, 2022. In a way the CNN and the Aljazeerah articles are about the same though the latter is much more comprehensive and detailed.
Let the CNN article below speak for itself. It describes a horrendous and scandalous situation, a grim reality. I’ve said it too often on this site. All people have a right to live without fear, it’s a fundamental human right, and each state has an obligation to protect its citizens and to uphold the rule of law and hold perpetrators accountable for their misdeeds.
Warning: some people may find the following article shocking because of its graphic contents (webmaster FVDK).
Hunting for humans: Malawian albinos murdered for their bones
Published: June 7, 2016 By: Dominique van Heerden – CNN
CNN — For Agness Jonathan, every day is a gamble with her children’s lives.
Simple questions like whether they should go to school carry an unimaginable risk of death and dismemberment to satisfy a barbaric demand.
This is because her daughters are living with albinism, a genetic condition resulting in little or no pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. And this makes them a target.
It is children like Agness’ who, according to a newly released Amnesty International report, are being hunted like animals in Malawi where their bones are sold in the belief the body parts bring wealth, happiness and good luck.
The report chronicles the day-to-day lives of those living with the condition, and details the extent of a recent surge in killings of albinos living in the landlocked country in southern Africa.
The bloodiest month was April this year, when Amnesty says four people were murdered, including a baby.
One of the victims was 17-year-old Davis Fletcher Machinjiri, who left his home to watch a soccer game with a friend, but never returned.
The Malawian police say he was abducted by “about four men who trafficked him to Mozambique and killed him.” Describing his gruesome death, they say “the men chopped off both his arms and legs and removed bones. They then buried the rest of his body in a shallow grave.”
Since 2014 at least 18 albinos have been killed, another five have been abducted and are still missing.
And if it weren’t for alert locals, Agness’ youngest daughter Chakuputsa would be one of them.
She was grabbed by three men while her mother was out working the fields. Agness describes how villagers chased after the men who eventually dumped the child in the bushes nearby. It turned out one of the attackers was a relative, someone, Agness tells Amnesty, she had considered like a brother. This, the community says, is all too common.
Attackers are known to sell body parts to witchdoctors in Malawi and neighboring Mozambique, hoping to make quick money.
Amnesty says “thousands of people with albinism are at severe risk of abduction and killing by individuals and criminal gangs,” while the United Nations warns that Malawi’s albinos are at risk of “total extinction.”
Grace Mazzah, a board member of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi, is always aware of the price on her head.
Warning: the story below contains graphic details which may upset the reader.
A 24-year-old lady from Warri, Delta State, has escaped from a den of ritual killers after being lured with a fake lucrative job offer abroad. After spending nine months in the bush where her abductors impregnated her she managed to escape. Other women who also had been kidnapped were not so lucky. After being raped, some women died of hunger and diseases, some were ritually murdered by their abductors who also used their babies for ritualistic purposes.
The article makes no mention of any arrest. Abductions are rife in Nigeria, both for purposes of demanding a ransom and for ritualistic purposes. According to the article, citing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 750,000 to one million persons are trafficked annually in Nigeria. Some 75% of those trafficked are taken across the states, 23% within states while 2% are moved outside the country, mostly to places in Europe and in Asia. Un unknown number of them is killed for ritual purposes in Nigeria (‘money rituals’). (webmaster FVDK).
Nigerian Woman Lured With Fake Italian Job Ends Up In Ritualists’ Den In Ondo, Impregnated By Abductors
Published: November 30, 2021 By: Sahara Reporters, New York
Mercy was made to believe that the salary was good and that they could pay for the travel expenses when they reached Italy and had started earning.
A 24-year-old lady simply identified as Mercy, who is based in Warri, Delta State, has escaped from a den of ritual killers after being lured with a fake lucrative job offer in Italy.
SaharaReporters learnt that the victim, who lost her father as a baby and was abandoned by her mother at 11 months, was told by a friend that there was a woman in Lagos State ready to sponsor them to Italy to work as sales attendants in stores and stewards for rich clients.
Mercy was made to believe that the salary was good and that they could pay for the travel expenses when they reached Italy and had started earning.
Desperate for a new life away from Warri where she endured an abusive relationship that produced a son, the 24-year-old lady did not inform her guardian, Maureen, before leaving for Lagos State in October 2020 with her friend, who was also lured and tricked to believe the trip was real.
Their journey to Italy was to start immediately after they arrived in Lagos and met with the sponsor of their trip.
But things took a different turn when Mercy and her friend, who is now deceased, finally linked up with team members of the woman that was to take them to Europe in a house around Surulere, a Lagos suburb.
“Mercy and her friend were given laced juice to drink when they arrived at the place they were to meet with the person, who promised to take them to Italy. They became unconscious for hours and only realised that they were in danger when they found themselves in a forest.
“Mercy summoned the courage to ask the men who had guns to take them out of the place but they beat her so much that she fainted,” Eriyo told SaharaReporters on Tuesday.
The days that followed that period were hellish for Mercy and the other ladies, who found themselves in the forest and at the receiving end of the cruelty dished out by the gun-wielding men.
Apart from being subjected to several hours of rape daily, the victims of the abduction and ritual killing network were made to endure hunger for several days.
They were only given two slices of bread once in three days and made to drink from a dirty pond inside the forest.
Mercy and many of the victims fell sick at various times while in captivity with some of them dying in the process.
“Many of the young ladies lured by this syndicate died of hunger and diseases from the dirty water they drank while in the forest.
“Their body parts were sold to ritualists who constantly demanded such. A lady who got pregnant and delivered there died but the baby survived. The gang used the innocent child for rituals along with the mother’s body.
“The place was a forest of death where no victim ever came out alive. The area was fortified and watched by members of this syndicate who all had sophisticated guns with them,” Eriyo added.
After spending around nine months inside this den, Mercy, her late friend and two others summoned the courage to escape from the place despite the presence of the gun-wielding men in various sections of the forest.
One day, after those guarding the place, were excessively high on drugs and alcohol and had dozed off, a handful of the victims escaped from the place.
They walked for three days inside the forest before getting to an expressway where a truck driver transporting food items to Lagos reluctantly carried them in his vehicle to the city.
The friend, who introduced the Italy trip to Mercy, did not make it out of the forest – she died while they were escaping from the place.
“Mercy is still in shock over everything she went through inside that forest. She returned to Warri last Thursday and gave birth by Caesarean section on Sunday.
“She was impregnated by her captors, who took turns to rape her and other ladies in the bush. Others like her who got pregnant in that forest and delivered there had their babies collected from them for ritual purposes.
“The trauma and pain are still fresh for her because many times she screams from her sleep, afraid that those people in the forest would come back to take her. The situation is affecting her mentally.
“She needs a lot of help to overcome the pain. I am trying my best to support her in ways I can but she needs great help.
“She is still in the hospital after giving birth by CS. Her health is of great concern to us because she has high blood pressure at the moment. She needs urgent assistance and intervention in various forms,” Eriyo said.
Trafficking in persons in Nigeria has been a major issue for years with the government failing to tackle the situation to a halt despite public outcry.
While in the past ladies were mostly taken to Italy, Spain and other European countries for prostitution, these days such persons after being lured by the syndicate in this illicit business, end up as sex slaves in Asian countries or killed for ritual purposes in Nigeria.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 750,000 to one million persons are trafficked annually in Nigeria.
The organisation went on to say that over 75 per cent of those trafficked are taken across the states, 23 per cent within states while two per cent are moved outside the country.
The recent surge in ritualistic killings in Liberia (see my previous posts, September 30, and October 1) has provoked many reactions including the comments presented below. The Liberian author, J. Patrick Flomo, relates ritual killings to elections and the involvement of high-ranking people, politicians and others (in Liberia called ‘big shots’), who often protect the ‘boyos’ or ‘heartmen’ who have actually carried out the dirty work – which explains the ‘impunity’.
Why is the belief in the power of ‘juju’ obtained by human sacrifice so persistent in Liberia (and other countries, as demonstrated by other country pages of the present site)? Aren’t we living in the 21st century? There is no place for these heinous crimes in a modern society.
Published: October 3, 2021 By: J. Patrick Flomo – The Perspective, Atlanta/Georgia
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for the I the Lord they God am a jealous God…” Exodus 20: 3 & 5
The lack of strong condemnation from the government on this wanton human abomination demonstrates the degree of the moral bankruptcy of this government. And the dearth of public outrage and outcry for justice (especially from the religious community that proclaims to be the custodian or the fountain of our morality) is a manifestation that our moral compass and sense of humanity is pointing not toward the North Star, but to the abyss of vile and human wantonness. This should not be happening in the 21st century of human civilization.
Webster defines ritual murder as the sacrificial slaying of a human as a propitiatory offering to a deity. It is confounding that in this age of advanced human “civilization” full of cosmopolitanism, education, and technological wonders, barbaric human sacrificial practices are still exercised in Liberia among a certain segment of society — mainly, the politicians.
This abominable practice within Liberian society is motivated by lust for power and wealth. In Liberia, the path to power, wealth, and affluence is to seek first “the political kingdom,” not hard work and the sweat of thy brow as found in Genesis 3:19: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken…” This insidious craving for power and wealth has warped some Liberian politicians so that they plunge into the pit of human depravity. In the post-war era, corpses have turned up missing eyes, tongues, and other parts, particularly during election season. Liberians associate these killings with political elites, who are said to use the parts in rituals that they think will give them a spiritual edge in winning an election or receiving a promotion. In late 2015, the United Nations released a human rights report about Liberia that devoted an entire chapter to the issue. In response, Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s outgoing president, admitted that ritual killings were on the rise and vowed to “bring this ugly situation under immediate control.” (www.guernicamag.com/).
Ritualistic killings have been part of Liberia’s political culture for decades. We all have known it for years yet have not collectively fought vigorously to stop it. Ritual sacrifices usually spike during presidential and legislative elections. In 2023, we will have presidential and legislative elections. It’s no wonder the spike in ritual killings. Human sacrifices have been part of our history as a species. But with the advent of the Enlightenment in Europe (the age of reason and empirical scientific revolution), human sacrifice was shown to have no substantive value and was immoral and antithetical to reason and logic. By the end of the enlightenment period, human sacrifice had waned in most of Europe and around the world; however, two centuries later, it is still practiced illegally in Liberia but with impunity because the perpetrator/s is rarely brought to justice.
I find it extremely confounding and incredulous that Liberian society, especially the government, seems to have a benign acceptance of these depraved and abominable acts. These acts should cause moral outrage among Liberians everywhere around the globe. But wretchedly and shockingly, that is not the case. For example, the horrific case of a very young woman killed with all inner organs missing should have all Liberians apoplectic and demanding that the government find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. NO! We are all silent at home and in the diasporas. This is a societal travesty of unprecedented proportion committed by us all. Liberia is awash in a proliferation of churches. It seems the country is in a vast religious awakening, and yet such demonic practices are not vigorously condemned.
When a former Methodist minister decided to run for county superintendent, court papers charge, he tried to add special ingredients to the campaign. The candidate, David K. Clarke, and three politically ambitious friends ”agreed to kidnap and murder a human being to obtain body parts after having consulted with a native witch doctor.” A few days later, Liberian newspapers reported, two small boys were found dead on a riverbank. Mr. Clarke and five other men were arrested and charged with ritual murder. Decades of preaching in churches and mosques have failed to eradicate West Africa’s feared practice of ”juju” or ”harsh medicine.” Practiced by ”boyos” or ”heartmen,” human sacrifice for individual advancement is often reported in newspapers in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria (New York Times: Monday, May 4, 1987).
While the world is struggling to attain a perfect human civilization, Liberia seems to be regressing into the abyss of human degradation and darkness. This act of barbarity in 2021 is a classic case that should cause all Liberians in the diasporas to call their various embassies for an answer and urge the government to end this abomination in Liberia. Incredulously, that is not happening. Is there any act of human abomination or barbarism that will provoke the Liberian people to anger and hold their government accountable? If this gruesome depiction of this dead young girl does not anger Liberians everywhere, then I question if Liberians really have souls or a conscience.
The following plea and and cry from Zimbabwe, following the ritual murder of Tapiwa Makore (7), and the two cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7), is long overdue but 100% warranted. Child sacrifice and more general human sacrifice is not a rare phenomenon in Zimbabwe, neither is it in a number of other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa. The gruesome murders have recently led to a general campaign to stop child sacrifice, the 777 Campaign. It goes without saying that I join this initiative.
Warning: the following article contains graphic details of ritual killing of children (FVDK).
The death of a child of any age is devastating. The pain and anguish can be compounded when the death comes at the hands of another human being. Parents and family members can face many complicated issues, even as they try to make sense of the incomprehensible – that someone knowingly, willingly or intentionally killed their child.
Children are gifts from God, they are precious and bundles of joy. Birth of children represent generational continuity and procreation is devine as God commanded: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Mwanachipo Africa Trust is a local NGO that works with people who are infertile and childless. As people who are infertile and childless, we are pained most when these gifts we are failing to get are hurt or ill treated and when they are murdered, our hearts are pierced. We are hurt most because, some of us have undergone unimaginable ordeals and forked huge sums of money in trying to bear children whilst heartless people and cowards, who prey on vulnerable children, are busy chopping off their heads and mutilating their bodies. To us, killing of children for whatever reason is termination of generational continuity and destruction of families instead of growing and expanding them.
The recent surge in ritual killings and murder cases of children in Zimbabwe is not only worrisome but also inhumane and horrifying.The gruesome murder of Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murehwa who was buried without a head and the recent heinous killings of two Benza cousins Delan (7) and Melissa (7) of central Mutasa by uncles should not go unchallenged. These brutal killings have prompted Mwanachipo to initiate the Stop Child Sacrifice:The 777 Campaign.
The 777 Campaign is in honour of the 3 slain innocent children (Tapiwa, Delan and Mellisa) who were all murdered aged 7 and the suspected ritual killers being uncles. Tapiwa was fed with food and later drugged with Kachasu( traditional illicit beer) before being brutally killed in a mountain. His torso was found the following morning being dragged by dogs and his head is nowhere to be found up to this day. Mellisa and Delan’s remains were found stashed in a toilet pit.
These gruesome murders are targeted mainly at children for ritual purposes. Vulnerable, innocent children are mutilated and murdered by ruthless and criminal people who want to increase their wealth, health, power or reputation – by all means. Like Tapiwa, Delan and Mellisa, a lot of children have fallen victim to murderers and ritual killers. Due to their vulnerability, they are easily abducted on their way to or from school or when conducting their daily home activities such as fetching water and collecting firewood. Children are the main victims because they are considered pure or unblemished ,easy to lure and their blood sacrifice is considered more powerful than that of adults as children represent new life, prosperity and growth to the one procuring the sacrifice. They are sacrificed by witch doctors to appease ‘the gods’ and bring a myriad of solutions which include wealth, good health and political power among others.Adults drawn to the practice are tricked into believing that the purity of child makes the ritual more powerful. Hearts, ears, livers and genitals are considered as key ingredients of the rituals.These body parts are said to be removed when children are still alive and they die as a result of bleeding or are killed by the murderers to conceal evidence.
The repeated occurrences of these ritual killings is a blatant violation of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989. The CRC applies to all children below the age of 18, and contains 54 articles covering almost all aspects of the life of a child.More so, this child sacrifice violates the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. According to this charter, an individual is entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person.
Biblically, God sanctified life.This means that human life is sacred ( made in the very image of the Creator himself according to Genesis 1:26-27), holy and precious. The sanctity of life is inherent as man cannot create life. Therefore, man has no authority to destroy life including the life of children. God chooses when life begins and ends and murder in all its forms is forbidden. It is the only way for humankind to exist.
Through the Stop Child Sacrifice: 777 Campaign , Mwanachipo Africa Trust is mobilising resources to be used to prevent sacrifice of children. Our children are not safe until every child is safe. Let us join hands to end child sacrifice. Everyone is duty bound to protect every child.Be part of the change which starts with all of us.Together we can make Zimbabwe a safer country for our children.
A Gambian businessman, Sillibah Samateh, testifying before the nation’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission has accused former Gambia dictator-president Yahya Jammeh of sacrificing babies for ritualistic purposes. Is it a lie, a phantasy or the truth?
The fact that I have decided to include here Mr. Samateh’s testimony before Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is no approval of his allegations and accusations implicating the former dictator who was chased out of his country in January 2017. Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea where he now lives, with the millions he stole before boarding the plane that brought him to the republic whose president is Africa’s longest ruling president, Teodoro Obiang. Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights records in the world.
Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh – his full name being Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh – seized power in a military coup in 1994 and ruled the tiny West African republic with an iron fist during more than 20 years. Thousands of his opponents died or disappeared during his dictatorship. He has been accused of numerous human rights violations, murders, killing migrants, shooting students, arbitrary arrests, suppression of the press, corruption, rape, witch hunting campaigns – the list of accusations and crimes is even much longer. From this point of view the allegations made by Mr. Samateh gain some credibility, but – as I have repeatedly said in this place – ‘nobody is guilty unless found guilty by an independent, impartial judge after a public, transparent trial‘.
Therefor, I present the allegations without comments. I don’t say they are true, I don’t say they are not true. I only say that the accusations have to been proven (webmaster FVDK).
Gambia: Exiled Gambian dictator accused of stealing babies from hospitals for ritualistic purposes; Jammeh’s supporters reject accusations
Published: December 9, 2020 By: Freedom Newspaper
A Gambian businessman has accused the former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of sacrificing newborn babies for ritualistic purposes. He says the babies were taken from hospitals and sacrificed. Sillaba Samateh made the allegations before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Tuesday. As Pa Nderry Mbai reports from Raleigh, North Carolina, Jammeh’s supporters are denying the allegations.
Speaking before an interpreter businessman Sillaba Samateh claimed that he learned about Jammeh’s alleged babies’ ritual while he was under detention at the National Intelligence Agency in Banjul. Samateh said he himself was being used to transport the stolen babies into the office of the late NIA Director General Numo Kujabi.
The two former security officers Samateh named in his testimony Nfanli Jabang and Numo Kujabi have died.
“You know the seriousness of this accusations. That the President of this country, was taking babies from hospitals and take them to prison to Kanilai for human sacrifice,” Lead Counsel Essa Faal told Mr. Samateh.
Samateh still stands by his story. He says Jammeh was allegedly killing babies for ritual purposes.
Samateh was held at the NIA on drug trafficking related charges. He later jumped bail and fled to Holland.
He claimed that while at the NIA, he was often asked to pick up dead bodies and put them in body bags.
Dodou Jah is the Deputy Spokesman for the former ruling APRC party.
“If these allegations were true, where are the parents of those kids, they have relatives, knowing for example, my wife is pregnant, goes to the hospital to deliver, we are expecting a baby. Even if my wife happens to pass away, but the baby belongs to the family, if the family doesn’t see it, the hospital is responsible. And these are issues that cannot go under the carpet, the media would be in the epicenter of it and this news is going to spread, but how come no such story ever emerged,” Mr. Jah said.
Jah says Samateh’s claims should be treated with pinch of salt. He added that witnesses should testify the truth and stop making baseless allegations against Yahya Jammeh.
“Not I don’t trust the TRRC, but some of the revelations I don’t know what to believe and the lead counsel is proving to them that they are lying. A witness comes to the TRRC and the lead counsel is telling them you are lying, but people want me to believe what they are saying. You know until somebody said it is red, another said it is black, I am asking who do I have to believe,” Mr. Jah remarked.
Samsudeen Sarr is the former Gambian Ambassador to the United Nations. Sarr is also a sympathizer of the APRC party.
“If thing of that nature as gruesome that is, would have been talked about everywhere in this country. So, I have serious doubts as to the credibility of the story of Sillaba Samateh,” Sarr remarked.
Sarr says Sillaba’s reputation is questionable. He is not convinced that Samateh was being truthful to the Commission.
“His reputation in this country has not been very good. You that, you know better than I do, Sillaba’s name it was not associated with good things in the past and since the change of government, he has been trying to sanitize his name and join the Barrow government,” Sarr added.
Lead Counsel Essa Faal says given the seriousness of Samateh’s allegations; it is important for the Commission’s Investigation team to investigate the matter.
Samateh was in tears while giving evidence. He claimed that one of the NIA officers Omar Cham had even threatened to rape his wife while they were being held there.
In another development, a former NIA detainee, who wished not to be named has dismissed Sillaba’s claims. He has accused Samateh of lying to the TRRC.
“We were detained at the same location at the NIA. No babies were brought to the NIA for ritual sacrifices. That was a figment of Sillaba’s own imagination. I am calling you, because I feel that he was untruthful to the Commission,” he said.
“As you rightly pointed out in your radio show, Numo Kujabi and Nfanli Jabang are not alive to substantiate his allegations. He is using the death to sell a false story,” the caller added.
Is the capital punishment a justifiable sanction or a sufficient deterrent to ritualistic murders, money rituals, muti murders, or whatever one calls the heinous crimes which ruthless criminals commit to increase their wealth, prestige or power? In Osun State, Nigeria, legislators contemplate to prescribe the death penalty for kidnappers and ritual killers. See the article below.
The United Nations has voted in favor of a moratorium on the death penalty (though Nigeria was among those voting against the resolution). It is to be doubted seriously if the capital punishment serves as a deterrent to ritual killers. Wouldn’t it be more logical and useful to eradicate superstition – which lies at the base of the belief in juju – by providing the necessary education and to create more job opportunities? (webmaster FVDK).
Kidnappers to Face Death Penalty in Osun
Published: February 26, 2020 By: This Day, Nigeria – Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
The Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Timothy Owoeye, yesterday said the state kidnapping and other related crimes (prohibition) bill 2020 would prescribe death penalty for kidnappers and also compliment efforts of the Amotekun Corps when fully inaugurated.
The Speaker at the public hearing on Osun State kidnapping and other related crimes prohibition bill 2020 stated that it is imperative to have an enabling law to ensure quick and diligent prosecution of kidnappers.
Owoeye pointed out that ever since the issue of Amotekun Corps arose, there has been a downward trend in the cases of kidnapping in Osun and other South-western states.
He held that the seveth Assembly under his watch is reviewing the existing laws on kidnapping which recommended that 14 years would be reviewed to death penalty.
The Speaker added that should the bill scale through the needed stages, those caught with human parts and kidnappers whose victims dies in the process of abduction would face death sentence as against imprisonment obtainable before now.
Owoeye noted that with the way kidnapping is becoming lucrative, it is sacrosanct that laws with severe consequences be put in place to protect Nigerians from kidnappers.
According to him, “Ever since the issue of Amotekun came up, I have noticed downward cases of kidnapping in Osun and other South-western states; however I am more afraid of the surge in ritual related cases.
“The country was saddened at the gruesome murder and dismembering of a 23-year-old 400 level LASU student, Favour Oladele, for money ritual purposes. We the Osun people are sadder that the killing took place in Ikoyi town, in our own soil.
“As parents and community leaders, we must begin to re-orientate our young ones on this prevailing get-rich-quick syndrome. There is no shortcut to success, the only way is preparation, hard work, patience and perseverance.”
Also, the Chairman of Osun Civil Society Coalition, Waheed Lawal, has given reasons for government at all levels to re-double their efforts to create job for employable youths, stating that it would go a long way in reducing the crime rate in the country.
Police Community Relations Committee Chairman in the state, Amitolu Shittu, on his own, commended the seventh Assembly for championing the crusade to bring sanity to the society.
This posting is NOT about ritual killings of people with albinism in Sierra Leone. It contains a public lecture by Rashid Dumbuya on the occasion of Albinism Awareness Day celebrations in this West Africa Country. However, also in Sierra Leone people with albinism face discrimination and barriers that limit their full participation in society on an equal basis with others.
In Sierra Leone, people with albinism are considered people with disabilities. Rashid Dumbuya concludes his public lecture with a number of recommendations to improve the position of people with albinism in Sierra Leone. (webmaster FVDK)
Published: June 19, 2019 By: The Patriotic Vanguard (Sierra Leone)
Albinism Awareness Day Celebrations in Sierra Leone
Public lecture by Rashid Dumbuya Esq
Them: Still standing strong; realizing the rights of Persons with Albinism in Sierra Leone.
Due to the immense challenges that were being faced by persons with albinism coupled with the increased momentum and outcry for their protection across the world, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in 2013 (A/HRC/RES/23/13) calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism around the world.
Consequently, on the 18th December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly heeded to the call and adopted Resolution 69/170 proclaiming 13th June as International Albinism Awareness Day.
Following this Resolution, the UN Human Rights Council on the 26 of March 2015 in resolution 28/6 established the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
The work of the Independent Expert among many other things as provided in its mandate is to engage in dialogue and consult with States and other relevant stakeholders; to identify, exchange and promote good practices relating to the realization of the rights of persons with albinism and their participation as equal members of society; to promote and report on developments, challenges and obstacles relating to the realization of the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism and to make recommendations in that regard to the Human Rights Council.
On 3 July 2015, the Human Rights Council appointed Ms. Ero of Nigeria as the first mandate holder and Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
She assumed her duties on 1st August 2015 and in January 2016, she submitted her first report on Albinism to the UN Human Rights Council.
STILL STANDING STRONG has been chosen as the international theme for this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day Celebrations.
The theme is a call to recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with Albinism around the world, to support their cause, their accomplishments as well as their challenges and to promote and protect their fundamental human rights.
LEGAL LINK is therefore proud to have associated and collaborated with the Sierra Leone Association of Persons with Albinism in commemorating this historic and symbolic day here today in Sierra Leone.
But why does the UN mark international days like this?
International days have been embraced by the UN because it affords an occasion to educate the world on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems; and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.
They also serve as powerful advocacy tool to draw attention and make strong case for reforms.
What is Albinism?
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition that affects people worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender.
It results from a significant deficit in the production of melanin and is characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. In order for a person to be affected by albinism, both parents must carry the gene and, in that case, there is a 25per cent chance that a child will be born with albinism at each pregnancy.
What are the prevailing statistics on Albinism across the world?
The proportion of persons affected by albinism in the world differs from region to region.
In North America and Europe, it is estimated that 1 in 17,000 to 20,000 people are affected by the condition, while in sub-Saharan Africa,1 in 5,000 to 15,000 could be affected, with specific countries having a much higher tendency, including estimated rates of 1 in 1,400, and about 1 in 20 persons in the general population carrying the gene for albinism.
Other studies suggest that in specific groups in Panama or in the Pacific region, the rate of people affected could be as high as 1 in 70 to 1 in 125.13.
However, in Sierra Leone, a report done by OSIWA in 2018 puts the statistics at a little over 500 people affected by albinism.
What are the different types of albinism?
Albinism is of different types. The most common and visible type is oculocutaneous albinism (OCA), which affects the skin, the hair and the eyes.
Within this type, there are subtypes, which reflect varying degrees of melanin pigment deficiency in an individual.
The main subtypes of OCA are tyrosinase negative albinism (OCA1) and tyrosinase positive albinism (OCA2).
In OCA1, there is little or no production of melanin and it is often characterized by white hair and opaque or transparent irises.
In OCA2, which is more prevalent particularly in African countries, some melanin is produced and it is characterized by yellow-blonde or sandy-coloured hair and grey to light brown irises.
A less common form of albinism is ocular albinism which affects the eyes alone, while albinism accompanied by Hermansky-Pudlak syndromeis is another less common form, which is characterized by bleeding disorders, bowel (colitis) and lung diseases.
*What are the legal frameworks protecting the rights of persons with albinism?*
At the International level:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political RightsUnited Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
All of the above international frameworks promotes equality and non-discrimination.
At the African regional level:
The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
The Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa
Resolution by the Pan African Parliament to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of attacks on persons with Albinism
At the domestic level:
The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone – (talks about protection from discrimination)
The Sierra Leone Disability Act of 2011.- (classify them generally as PWD’s)
The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone -(promote and protect their rights)
Sierra Leone Association for persons with Albinism- (umbrella body in SL)
Challenges and areas of concern
Persons with albinism face discrimination and barriers that restrict their participation in society on an equal basis with others every day.
Due to those many challenges, persons with albinism throughout the world are unable to enjoy the full range of human rights and the same standards of equality, rights and dignity as others.
While some of those challenges are global, others have predominantly been identified in certain regions.
In the Independent Expert’s report of 2016, some of the challenges identified include human rights violations such as attacks, desecration of graves, trafficking of body parts, displacement, discrimination against persons with albinism, as well as human rights violations based on disabilities, deprivation of the right to the highest attainable standard of health and the right to education.
1. Witchcraft and related offences
It has been widely reported and documented that persons with albinism are hunted and physically attacked due to prevailing myths such as the misbelief that their body parts, when used in witchcraft rituals and potions or amulets, will induce wealth, good luck and political success.
Other dangerous myths that facilitate the perpetration of attacks are those linked to perceptions of their appearance, including misbeliefs and myths that persons with albinism are not human beings, but ghosts, that they are subhuman and that they do not die, but disappear.
An increase of those attacks, referred to as “ritual attacks”, has been reported by to have been high in Africa especially during periods of political elections.
2. Brutal and deadly nature of the Attacks on PWA’s
In Africa, it is reported that, attacks directed at persons with albinism are usually carried out with machetes, resulting in severe mutilation or death.
In most cases, the persons attacked are dismembered; body parts such as fingers, arms, legs, eyes, genitals, skin, bones, the head and hair have been severed from the body and taken. In several of those cases, body parts have been hacked off while the person was alive.
Reportedly, there is a corollary witchcraft belief that it is preferable to harvest body parts from live victims because screams increase the potency of the potion for which the parts are used.
Since 2007, civil society organizations have reported hundreds of attacks against persons with albinism in 25 countries.
All of those physical attacks appear to be, at least in part, related to the erroneous beliefs and myths linked to witchcraft practices.
3. Lucrative Trade and markets for the body parts of persons with albinism.*
It has been reported that there is a market for body parts of persons with albinism. The body parts are reportedly sold both locally and across borders.
The prices of body parts reportedly range from $2,000 for a limb to $75,000 for a “complete set” or a corpse. Civil society reports indicate that, motivated by those prices, family members and communities have sold, or attempted to sell, persons with albinism, thereby fuelling the supply side of this macabre trade.
Recent cases of body-parts trafficking that were brought to the attention of the Independent Expert by civil society include cases where law enforcement agencies acted promptly and were able to prevent the sale and save the persons with albinism involved.
In a few other cases, however, the body parts were harvested and have still not been recovered.
4. Forced migration
Attacks against persons with albinism in some areas have caused hundreds of persons, particularly women and children, to flee their homes and seek refuge in temporary shelters.
Most of these shelters were neither designed nor prepared for an influx of persons with albinism, and are also not equipped to address the special needs of persons with albinism. Reports show that inhabitants with albinism are exposed to early skin cancer risk and various forms of abuse.
5. Discrimination and stigmatization
One of the main barriers to the implementation of the human rights of persons with albinism is discrimination and stigmatization, both of which are historically and culturally entrenched. Information on discrimination against persons with albinism is a common reality around the world. However, the expression and severity of the discrimination faced by persons with albinism vary from region to region.
In sub Saharan Africa in particular, bullying of school-age children owing to their appearance is on the increase.
Also, discrimination takes more extreme forms, including infanticide, physical threats and attacks.
Lack of information on the condition facilitates the spread of myths to explain albinism, most of which are erroneous and in some cases dangerous, including myths that people with albinism are ghosts or the result of conception during menstruation or the result of a general curse.
Challenges faced by persons with albinism in Sierra Leone
Though not severe and deadly like those encountered in East and Southern parts of Africa, Persons with Albinism (PWA) in Sierra Leone also face huge challenges in the realization of their rights.
Firstly, they have been largely excluded and sometimes forgotten by government, civil society, donors and development partners in the democratic and governance agenda of the country. Issues affecting them have generally gone unnoticed and has resulted to deep engraved stigma, exclusion, discrimination and sometimes violence against them.
Furthermore, they have little or no voice compared to other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, children and women.
Also, there is little activism on the part of civil society as well people living with the condition to advocate for the promotion and protection of their rights and wellbeing which may be a consequence of lack of knowledge and understanding and/or interest.
Other challenges include access to justice, education, health, employment and even political representation in the democratic governance architecture of the country.
More negative still, the lack of effective, functional and genuine bodies, organizations or CSO’s in Sierra Leone to help advocate on the rights of PWA’s has also left them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous persons and organizations.
Finally, the challenges encountered by Persons with Albinism in Sierra Leone could be best summarized in the words of the Founder and Executive Director of Sierra Leone Association for Persons with Albinism, Mohamed Osman Kamara aka Jay Marvel, as posted on their Facebook page.
*‘’We Demand Action to be taken Now! We Crying Since Yesterday Night…… About the Demise Of Mahid Jalloh, Who Was Also Admitted At Connaught For Skin Cancer With The Late Ruth. He Was Transfered To The Shepherd Hospital At Tombo. There He Passed Away On The 23rd At Around 12:00pm. We Are Calling On the Sierra Leone Government, And All Organizations Around the World… Skin Cancer Is Killing Us. These Are Just The Two ( 2) Known Cases.. Who Knows How Many Persons With Albinism Are Dying From Skin Cancer In The Country? , Because We Lack Proper Health Care. This is a Serious National Issue. Every Citizen Should Be Concerned and Try in His or Her Own Way.!!! Ministry Of Health, National Commission For Persons With Disability, Ministry Of Social Welfare Children and Gender Affairs etc YOU SHOULD TAKE THE LEAD IN THIS CASE! Rest In Peace Our Beloved Brother! We Love You Both and Pray the Government Puts An End To Skin Cancer Affecting Persons With Albinism In Sierra Leone.!’’*
From the above points raised, it stands to reason that human right abuses and violations of the rights of persons with albinism is still commonplace in Sierra Leone.
*LEGAL LINK* therefore joins the Sierra Leone Association for Persons with Albinism in calling on the government of Sierra Leone to adopt and implement the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa as well as the newly adopted resolution by the Pan African Parliament to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of attacks on persons with albinism and further ensure effective education and awareness training on the human rights of people with albinism. Also, we call on the government and Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone to pass a specific law that will adequately protect the rights of albinism in the country.
Furthermore, we call on the government to ensure that victims and members of their families have access to appropriate remedies.
More significantly, we call on the government, the human rights commission, the National Commission for persons with disabilities and other civil societies organizations with human rights mandate to increase education and public awareness-raising activities on the rights of persons with albinism so as to deconstruct stereotypes and existing myths.
We further call on government to ensure that PWA’s are not discriminated in schools and are provided with scholarship support to pursue their education to the highest of levels. Free healthcare for PWA’s must also be guaranteed so as to help address the problem of skin cancer.
The Government of Sierra Leone should also ensure that PWA’s are included in the three arms of government as well as the public service and other sectors crucial for the running of the affairs of the state. This will help to de- mystify myths and erroneous beliefs about PWA’s not being human.
Finally, inclusion of information on the situation of persons with albinism in reports submitted by the Government of Sierra Leone to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights under article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and also to the UN Human Rights Council under the UPR, is good practice in the protecting and promoting of the rights of persons with albinism.
Persons with Albinism have faced and continue to face, ongoing hurdles and challenges that seriously undermine their enjoyment of fundamental human rights in Sierra Leone and the world at large. From stigma and discrimination, to barriers of access to health and education as well as marginalization from socio-political and democratic institutions in the country.
In addition, PWA’s have also become subjects of attacks for ritual killings and political power in many parts of Africa.
But despite all of these challenges, PWA’S have remained undaunted and are STILL STNDING STRONG! WE CAN DO BETTER FOR THEM BY ACCEPTING THEM AS HUMAN BEINGS THAT DESERVES TO LIVE, ENJOY EQUAL RIGHTS, DIGNITY AND RESPECT WITH US!
Rashid Dumbuya ESQ
Executive Director – LEGAL LEGAL LINK
Christian Lawyers Centre (a.k.a LEGAL LINK) is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Sierra Leone as a non-profit legal advocacy group comprising of lawyers, law students and human right activists that seeks to provide legal assistance to religious communities and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone through legal advocacy, public interest litigations, state and private sector accountability, enforcement of the rule of law and respect for domestic and international laws that guarantee fundamental human rights and freedoms.