No crime against albinos will go unpunished in Mozambique, declared Justice Minister Helena Kida in Maputo on 13 June. Speaking at a ceremony to mark International Albinism Awareness Day, Kida called for a determined fight against the myths and superstitions surrounding albinism, which have led to the hunting, mutilation and murder of people suffering from this skin disorder.
"There are clear signs of the violation of the human rights of albinos", she said. "We know that people suffering from albinism have been murdered, and all those involved will be held responsible".
Kida said there are "complex social stigmas" associated with albinism, which result in the persecution of people suffering from this condition. The government, she added, is implementing a National Plan of Action on Albinism, which seeks to protect the rights of albinos.
Among the actions being taken is a fight against trafficking in people and human body parts. Albinos are particularly vulnerable to this trafficking because of beliefs that albino body parts possess magical powers, and that rituals involving them can confer wealth or power.
Kida said the government also wants to provide albinos with psycho-social support and quality health care. The lack of melanin in the skin of albinos makes them highly vulnerable to diseases caused by the ultra-violet radiation of the sun, including skin cancer.
Kida pledged that the government will step up awareness campaigns to protect human rights, particularly the rights of albinos.
A representative of UNESCO, Paul Gomis, told the meeting of his horror at the recent murder of an albino in the northern province of Nampula and hoped that those responsible for this crime will be brought to justice.
He praised the advances Mozambique has made in protecting albinos and in its ratification of various international treaties and conventions. In particular, he noted that Mozambique had participated in the Global Summit on Disability in February, where "it renewed its promise to take effective measures to protect and promote the rights of disabled people, including people with albinism".