People living with albinism have appealed to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) legislators to protect them against wantonly attacks directed at their existence by the communities they live in.
This endangered minority group pleaded with Permanent Committees on Justice & Human Rights; Youth, Gender & Persons with disabilities; & Immigration at a workshop on “Implementation of PAP 2018 Resolution on the Rights of Persons with Albinism” during the March Sittings of the Permanent Committees of the fifth Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.
The PAP in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria worked with African Legislators and Civil Society Organizations on 4 March 2019 to develop strategies of protecting and promoting the rights of people living with albinism.
This follows adoption of a Resolution on Persons with Albinism in Africa in May 2018, in line with PAP’s mandate to issue resolutions and recommendations on key developmental and social issues affecting the African continent. The move is also meant to reinforce efforts by regional bodies in Africa to address on-going violations of the rights of persons with albinism.
“As people living with albinism, we continue to be attacked due to witchcraft beliefs and market for our body parts. We need urgent help to stop that,” said the Advocacy and Human Rights Officer from ‘Under the Same Sun,’ Perpetua SENKORO while addressing the African legislators.
“We are still facing a lot of challenges in our daily lives which include killings, mutilation of body parts, grave exhumations, rape, trafficking of body parts and shavings.”
Senkoro also disclosed that attacks of people with albinism are highly reported in 29 African countries; with Tanzania, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique top of the list.
She further underlined that women with albinism and mothers of children with albinism are the most affected. “As women with albinism; we are abandoned, prone to sexual violence and suffer expulsion from communities as well.
Meanwhile, Senkoro requested PAP to adopt a resolution that commits the continental legislators to raise more awareness on albinism; develop regional guidelines on harmful practices related to manifestation of beliefs in witchcraft and lobby that the African Union Commission adopts the resolution as annex to the AU Protocol on disability, since the Protocol expressly mentions Persons with Albinism.
Representing the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), Vice-President Pamela JOMA also urged the PAP to lobby their governments to protect them.
“In Malawi we have had about 6 attacks on people with albinism since the beginning of the year so far. In the past five years, we have had nearly 30 people with albinism murdered. We also have 18 people with albinism as we speak. I believe there is much more that needs to be done by our African Governments to protect us against these attacks,” she appealed.
Recent developments, trends and the prevailing gaps on the rights and protection of persons with albinism in the continent were deliberated and used as case studies to guide strategies and way forward.
Mrs. Pamela JUMA, Vice-President of the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi, as well as Mr. Deprose MUCHENA, Director, Amnesty International of Southern Africa led the dialogue on the situation in Malawi, human rights interventions and outstanding issues.