Government officials gathered in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting on Wednesday considered [press release] a report [materials] on the growing problem of violence and severe discrimination against people with albinism. The report, written by human rights expert Ikponwosa Ero, called for action to end the discrimination that she asserted was founded on traditional and culturally entrenched misbeliefs and misconceptions about albinism. Ero encouraged government authorities to create long-term and sustained awareness raising campaigns, to initiate policies that support mothers of children with albinism and to regulate the practice of witchcraft in all forms. Major problems highlighted by the report include the risk that families and communities abandon children with albinism and the development of a black market that values body parts from people with albinism. Lastly, Ero pointed to the often weak judicial response to attacks as an on-going issue in ending the violence against people with albinism.
The treatment of albinos in Africa and neighboring countries has been a highly contested human rights issue for many years. In September Ero expressed [JURIST report] ongoing concerns for the safety of persons with albinism in Mozambique, while at the same time recognizing that the nation had taken successful steps to improve conditions. In March Ero noted the increasing violence [JURIST report] against people with albinism triggered by fallacious “witchcraft” beliefs. Last year the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched a website [JURIST report] aimed at disproving the myths of albinism. In 2014 the OHCHR said that the Tanzanian government’s system of placing children with albinism in government care centers does not provide this vulnerable group with adequate protection [JURIST report] from those who target albinos.