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Malawi

    June 12, 2017

    A new wave of killings and attacks targeting people with albinism over the past six months is being fueled by systemic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system which leave members of this vulnerable group at the mercy of criminal gangs, Amnesty International said today on International Albinism Awareness Day.

    Since January 2017, at least two people with albinism have been killed while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction. This stands in stark contrast to the last six months of 2016, when no such incidents were reported.

    “Despite stronger legislation, including reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act, to tackle attacks against people with albinism, we are seeing an alarming resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group in 2017,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “When the wheels of justice turn so painfully slowly, as they do in Malawi, and historic cases of attacks on people with albinism remain unresolved, it creates a climate of impunity and emboldens suspected perpetrators of these horrific crimes.”

    March 10, 2017

    The Malawian authorities must step up action to protect people with albinism who are being targeted for ritual murders, Amnesty International said today, following another attack in the country’s capital Lilongwe.

    Last night four men attempted to drill through the wall of the home of Gilbert Daire, former president of the Association of the People with Albinism, as he slept. They fled the scene after his neighbours intervened.

    “This brazen attack happened in the middle of the country’s busiest city, and sends a chilling message about the lack protection, safety and security of all people with albinism,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “In the past two years we have seen an alarming surge in attacks on people with albinism. We have documented dozens of individuals being hunted down like animals for their body parts, but these brazen attacks seem to continue unabated. Malawian authorities must end this cycle of impunity of perpetrators of these crimes.”

    January 12, 2017

    In response to the killing on 10 January 2017 of Madalitso Pensulo, a 19-year-old man with albinism in Mlonda Village under the Sabwe Traditional Authority in Thyolo District, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said:

    “Malawian authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the horrific killing of Madalitso Pensulo, and take immediate steps to address the poor policing and failures in the criminal justice system which have led to a climate of impunity for crimes against people with albinism.

    “Police and other law enforcement officials should step up their efforts and promptly bring the suspected perpetrator, who is known by the Mlonda Village community, before a competent court of law in a fair trial. The message must be sent that attacks on people with albinism will not be tolerated.

    July 18, 2016

    Authorities must investigate the gruesome attack on Saturday on a woman with albinism and bring those suspected of the crime to justice, Amnesty International said today following the latest in a series of such attacks.

    According to media reports, unidentified men targeted 51-year-old woman in Chitipa District in the northern region, chopping off her right hand with a machete after forcing their way into her home in the early hours of 16 July 2016.

    “The authorities’ inaction puts people with albinism in Malawi at constant risk of violent attack,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “Just last month, the Malawian authorities assured Amnesty International that they are stepping up their efforts to prevent and punish these superstition-based attacks. It is time to go beyond words and to take effective measures to protect this vulnerable group.”

    Background

    June 13, 2016

    Malawian officials must live up to their promises to end violence against people with albinism and tackle discrimination against this group, Amnesty International said on International Albinism Awareness Day.

    During a series of meetings with senior government officials, including President Arthur Peter Mutharika, on 7 June, Amnesty International secured commitments to not only address the spate of killings of people with albinism but also to tackle the root causes of discrimination.

    “Recognition by the Malawian authorities at the highest level that people with albinism not only experience daily discrimination but also live in constant fear of attacks is an important step in addressing the problem,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “Malawian police need more resources and must conduct thorough and effective investigations to bring the abductions and killings to an end. Visible policing in rural areas coupled with an effective public education campaigns can contribute significantly in arresting the problem.”

    June 07, 2016

    A surge in killings of people with albinism, whose body parts are used in ritual practices, has exposed a systematic failure of policing in Malawi and left this vulnerable group living in fear, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.

    The report, “We are not animals to be hunted or sold”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi”, exposes how the wave of violent attacks against people with albinism have increased sharply over the last two years, with four people, including a baby, murdered in April 2016 alone.

    “The unprecedented wave of brutal attacks against people with albinism has created a climate of terror for this vulnerable group and their families who are living in a state of constant fear for their lives,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    April 15, 2016

    The horrific murder of a two-year-old girl with albinism highlights the failure by the Malawi’s authorities to adequately protect this vulnerable group, said Amnesty International following the discovery of her skull, teeth and the clothes she was wearing in Balantha Hill in Kasungu district.

    The child, Whitney Chilumpha, had been missing since being abducted from her home whilst sleeping beside her mother in Chiziya village, Kasungu district, on 3 April. She is the twelfth person with albinism known to have been killed in Malawi since December 2014.

    “The murder of this innocent child is part of a deeply disturbing pattern of disappearances and killings of people with albinism in Malawi where body parts are sold for use in witchcraft,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    March 03, 2016

    The sickening discovery of the severed head of a nine-year-old boy with albinism in Malawi shows the grave risk to life faced by this vulnerable minority group and the urgent need for the authorities to provide them with adequate protection, said Amnesty International today.

    Police confirmed to Amnesty International today that they found the head of the boy who was abducted from his home at Moto village in Malawi's eastern district of Machinga on Friday 26 February.

    “The discovery of the head of a nine year-old boy with albinism who was abducted in front of his mother, shows the grave danger faced by people with albinism in Malawi. The Police must urgently and thoroughly investigate the matter and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for this heinous crime,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    February 03, 2016

    The killing of a woman with albinism in Malawi highlights the government’s shocking failure to protect the right to life and personal security of this vulnerable minority, said Amnesty International.

    The mutilated body of Eunice Phiri, a 53-year-old woman with albinism, was found on 28 January in the Kasungu National Park. Her arms had been cut off – a practice common with ritual murders where people with albinism are killed for their body parts which are sold for use in witchcraft.

    “It is deeply worrying that there’s poor security for people with albinism in Malawi despite an increasing number of attacks against them,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “The government’s human rights obligations require them to protect everyone’s right to life. They must ensure that the police have the resources to protect those at risk of attacks.”

    These crimes must be investigated and those suspected of responsibility brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty.

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