LILONGWE (Tamanda Mwale, Malawi NewsNow)-Malawi government has intensified surveillance and investigations in the districts where cases of abductions and killings of people with albinism have been reported, President Peter Mutharika on said on Wednesday.
The President said in a national address on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) television and radio in the wake of the beheading of a nine-year-old boy with albinism in Moto Village in Machinga District on February 26 this year.
The Malawi government was recently criticised for its “shocking failure to protect the right to life and personal security of this vulnerable minority,” by the Amnesty International.
“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.
Malawi President Mutharika has since encouraged the Judiciary to issue stiffer sentences to the people involved in such malpractices.
“The malpractice has brought fear, breakdown of communal life and sense of insecurity among persons with albinism, relatives and friends. Let me assure you that government is taking serious steps against this criminal behaviour. And we will overcome this,” he said.
He also said government has intensified its working relationship with the Association of Persons with Albinism (Apam).
Apam has reported over 50 cases of attacks against persons with albinism, which have resulted into deaths, abductions for the purposes of body parts removal and exhumation of their bodies.
Apam president Boniface Massa is on record as having said it is unfortunate that despite all the resources invested in training the Judiciary and police in handling such cases, little was being done to mete out stiffer punishments to convicts.
“The government must take urgent action to protect people with albinism and to address the root cause of the violence and discrimination they suffer,” said Amnesty International. “They must also take steps to ensure that superstitions and harmful cultural beliefs which fuel the attacks are tackled.”
Erroneous beliefs and superstition have put the safety and lives of people with albinism at risk, including from killings, abductions, and mutilations.