UN expert: Malawi must protect people with albinism from attack

UN expert: Malawi must protect people with albinism from attack

[JURIST] UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism Ikponwosa Ero [official profile] on Thursday called on [press release] Malawi to take action to protect people with albinism from attacks. Recently there have been several attacks this year in the small country on people with albinism. Some attacks have been based in the mistaken belief by those who practice witchcraft that the bodies of people with albinism have magical powers, and Ero urged for a public education and awareness campaign to address this issue. He stated, “[t]he absence of such measures makes Malawians with albinism ultra-vulnerable to attacks, leaving them plagued with an untenable level of fear for their lives.” Ero called on Malawi to seek help from other countries for more investment and support in eradicating this issue.

The treatment of people with albinism in Africa has been a highly contested human rights issue for many years. In October a UN report called for action [JURIST report] to end violence against people with albinism. In September Ero expressed [JURIST report] ongoing concerns for the safety of people with albinism in Mozambique, while at the same time recognizing that the nation had taken successful steps to improve conditions. Last March Ero noted the increasing violence [JURIST report] against people with albinism triggered by fallacious “witchcraft” beliefs. In 2015 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 [JURIST report] this vulnerable group with adequate protection from those who target them.