It’s war on killers of people with albinism
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.
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)