National

Apam withdraws from Peter Mutharika taskforce

By Rebecca Chimjeka:

Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has withdrawn its membership from the Presidential Taskforce on Persons with Albinism over Homeland Security Minister Nicholas Dausi’s remarks concerning attacks on such people.

Apam President, Overstone Kondowe, Wednesday said they arrived at the decision following statements Dausi made on Tuesday regarding increasing cases of abductions and killings of people with albinism.

Addressing the press in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Dausi appeared to suggest that there was no need for Apam to stage a vigil on March 3, as planned, because attacks on persons with albinism have not reached crisis levels.

Some 24 people with albinism have been murdered and over 160 cases registered since 2014.

Since December 2018, a man has been murdered and two children abducted in Nkhata Bay, Karonga and Dedza districts.

In reaction, Kondowe said Dausi’s statement demonstrates the government’s lack of seriousness in its responsibility to protect persons with albinism.

“We expected [the] government to be very much serious in discussing the issues but, to our surprise, this is not the case [and] that is why we decided to pull out from the presidential taskforce,” he said

Apam has also boycotted a high [activities of] level meeting concerning attacks on persons with albinism underway in Lilongwe.

“We have submitted a letter this morning. All of us have not participated in [activities of] that meeting,” he said.

Kondowe said it was high time the nation accepted that it has failed to bring tangible solutions to the national crisis.

In reaction, Dausi said Apam has been influenced by politicians.

“We can understand them. They have been meeting a lot of political parties and other opinion leaders. We knew that the influence will not just pass. It is unfortunate. [The] government will continue making sure that these people are protected. As for the association, this is their choice,” he said.

Meanwhile, Apam will hold a three-day vigil from March 3 2019 as a way of expressing their concerns to the government over the attacks.

Apam is concerned that the government is failing to implement a national action plan on persons with albinism.

Recently, Human Rights Consultative Committee asked President Peter Mutharika to dissolve the taskforce, saying it was ineffective.

Mutharika formed the taskforce, whose membership comprises Human Rights Commission, Office of the President and Cabinet, Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi, in 2016 to get to the bottom of the attacks on albinos.

However, terms of reference of the taskforce are not clear.

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