It’s war on killers of peo­ple with al­binism

The Mercury - - NEWS - Mel Fryk­berg

PAN African Par­lia­ment (PAP) leg­is­la­tors have de­clared war on those who com­mit hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions against al­bi­nos.

“A se­vere pun­ish­ment is the only be­fit­ting so­lu­tion for those who vic­timise, tor­ture and kill peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism,” PAP Pres­i­dent Roger Nkodo Dang told the Sixth Or­di­nary Ses­sion of the Fourth Par­lia­ment that ended in Midrand, near Joburg, yes­ter­day.

“I urge all leg­is­la­tors here to make it their habit to al­ways speak out against vi­o­la­tions against per­sons with al­binism. All the sto­ries peo­ple are told about peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism as a lucky charm are to­tal off­side.

“I had a fam­ily mem­ber who lived with al­binism. When he died we buried him just like ev­ery hu­man be­ing. There was noth­ing new or mag­i­cal; they are all peo­ple just like us.

“What you see in their com­plex­ion is just a con­di­tion. Let us not be mis­led or lied to by those who are ter­ror­is­ing peo­ple be­cause of their race.”

Com­ment­ing on the chal­lenges faced by per­sons liv­ing with al­binism, most of the African leg­is­la­tors called for “to­tal re­moval of these killers from our so­ci­eties”.

They fur­ther urged var­i­ous courts across the con­ti­nent to give life sen­tences to crim­i­nals who kill peo­ple be­cause of their con­di­tion and race.

Death sen­tence

Some leg­is­la­tors also sug­gested that the death sen­tence must be re­served as a so­lu­tion for those killing per­sons liv­ing with al­binism for “ri­tual pur­poses”.

Ad­dress­ing the PAP, Ikpon­wosa Ero, a UN in­de­pen­dent ex­pert on the hu­man rights of per­sons with al­binism, chal­lenged the African leg­is­la­tors to ad­dress and ul­ti­mately put an end to the on­go­ing at­tacks and dis­crim­i­na­tion faced by per­sons with al­binism.

“The Pan-African Par­lia­ment could be a force for change. You could be­gin to put an end to this vi­o­lence by devel­op­ing a co­her­ent pol­icy, guid­ance doc­u­ment or model law to ad­dress harm­ful prac­tices re­lated to witch­craft,” said Ero.

Last year’s Re­gional Ac­tion Plan, a five-year plan from 2017-2021 – de­vel­oped in con­sul­ta­tion with hun­dreds of per­sons from 26 coun­tries on the con­ti­nent, in­clud­ing per­sons with al­binism, civil so­ci­ety, and gov­ern­ments – was en­dorsed by the African Com­mis­sion on Hu­man and Peo­ples’ Rights.

Nearly 700 at­tacks and vi­o­la­tions were re­ported against per­sons with al­binism in 28 coun­tries in Africa over the past decade. In Malawi and Mozam­bique, more than 120 cases have oc­curred in the past three years alone.

Cases of at­tacks and vi­o­la­tions against per­sons with al­binism in­clude killings, mu­ti­la­tions, ri­tual rape, grave rob­beries and traf­fick­ing in body parts across borders. It is widely be­lieved that many cases go un­re­ported ow­ing to weak mon­i­tor­ing and the in­volve­ment of fam­ily mem­bers.

“I state unequiv­o­cally that the body parts of per­sons with al­binism do NOT have su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers and cer­tainly do not gen­er­ate good luck for any­one,” said Ero.

“Per­sons with al­binism are hu­man be­ings like you; and like you, they have the right to life and se­cu­rity. Al­binism is a mere ge­netic con­di­tion.

“It hap­pens when two par­ents carry the gene for al­binism. When they do, there is a 25% chance at each preg­nancy that the child will have al­binism.

“Im­pli­ca­tions of the con­di­tion in­clude low vi­sion and high vul­ner­a­bil­ity to skin cancer,” she said.

Ero be­lieves the PAP could work out African so­lu­tions to this African prob­lem, to­gether with part­ners such as “my­self, or­gan­i­sa­tions of per­sons with al­binism”, and rep­utable or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Cen­tre for Hu­man Rights at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria – all in the spirit of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and Agenda 2063 of the AU.

In the past five months of this year alone, at­tacks, in­clud­ing mur­der, mu­ti­la­tion and kid­nap­ping, have been re­ported from Malawi, Benin, Zam­bia, Tan­za­nia and Mozam­bique. Other coun­tries with records of at­tacks in­clude Cameroon, Ghana, Nige­ria, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and the DRC, among oth­ers. – African News Agency (ANA)­cury TheMer­curySA Mer­cpic TheMer­curySA

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