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Southern Africa: Leaders must ramp up efforts to stop people with albinism being killed for body parts

Approximately 150 people with albinism have been killed in countries such as Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique since 2014

‘Violent attacks are fuelled by the false and dangerous myth that body parts of people with albinism can make someone rich’ – Deprose Muchena

Amnesty International is urging leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ramp up efforts to protect the security of people with albinism, during the 39th meeting of the SADC, which is taking place this week.

Approximately 150 people with albinism have been killed in countries such as Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2014 for their body parts. Tanzania has reported the highest number of killings (76) for the same period. There are tens of thousands of people with albinism across the SADC region.

Amnesty is calling on SADC leaders to adopt a regional solution, to ensure a coordinated security response for people with albinism across southern Africa.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said:

“Across the SADC region, people with albinism continue to live in fear of being killed or abducted for their body parts. These waves of violent attacks are fuelled by the false and dangerous myth that body parts of people with albinism can make someone rich.

“SADC leaders must tackle the root causes of these targeted attacks by criminal gangs across the region. They must use this summit to send a clear message that those who perpetrate these attacks will be brought to justice, and turn the tide against these horrendous crimes.”

Attacks on people with albinism include mutilations, kidnappings and attempted kidnappings. Victims have been lured across international borders, including being brought from countries like Malawi having been found in countries like Mozambique.

Criminal justice failures, such as poor handling of cases and evidence, have driven the impunity and persistent crimes against this vulnerable group.

While there have been legal reforms, including changes to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act to tackle attacks in countries like Malawi and Tanzania, they are yet to yield positive results as people with albinism continue to be targeted by criminal gangs.

Addressing human rights violations against people with albinism

The SADC Parliamentary Forum adopted a motion condemning attacks, abductions, killings and discrimination against persons with albinism across the region during its 45th session in Mozambique on 24 July. Amnesty believes that this is a positive step forward that brings the region closer to genuinely addressing the cycle of human rights violations against people with albinism.

People with albinism continue to face human rights violations including stigma and discrimination, inadequate access to health and education services, as well as other social exclusions.

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