11 February 2019

Malawi: Attacks Against Malawians With Albinism Condemned

Lilongwe — PEOPLE with albinism are living in fear as Malawi prepares for elections in May.

United Nations (UN) experts highlighted that election periods could be a dangerous time for people with the condition as this is when killings and attacks often spike.

This is because of false beliefs that their body parts can bring good luck and political power when used in witchcraft-related rituals.

A man has been killed and a one-year-old baby kidnapped in recent attacks against albinos, raising fear of further violations leading to the elections.

The infant's mother has been arrested for allegedly conniving with abductors.

UN experts stated the two incidents were part of a larger pattern where ritual killings and severe human rights violations were instigated specifically against persons with albinism.

"The attacks and violations are astonishing in their brutality," the experts stated.

In total, some 150 cases of killings, attacks and other human rights violations against persons with albinism have been reported in the Southern African country. There have been few prosecutions.

Threats and attacks have severely affected the physical and mental integrity of persons with albinism, according to experts.

The government of President Peter Mutharika has been urged to deploy adequate law enforcement personnel to protect vulnerable people.

Mutharika recently warned perpetrators of attacks on albinos would "rot in jail."

"Despite various steps to support people with albinism, the recent attacks demonstrate that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to end the ongoing atrocities," the experts said.

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