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Death penalty for albino killers—MPs

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Albino killers are vicious murderers who must be executed to prevent them from murdering again, some Malawian lawmakers have proposed.

“It is time for tit-for-tat, an eye for an eye and a life for a life. Let’s join hands and end the senseless murders by hanging all albino killers,” a lawmaker told a National Stakeholders Conference held in Lilongwe on Tuesday.

Civil society organisations convened the conference to brainstorm strategies aimed at ending the abductions and killings of people with albinism in the country.

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A lawmaker from opposition Malawi Congress Party, Madalitso Kazombo, said a group of concerned legislators would table a proposal in Parliament to strengthen the Penal Code so that albino killers should be sentenced to death “instead of merely jailing them for a few years.”

“He who kills should be killed. The correct punishment for albino killers should be death. We should not even debate about this. Anti-death penalty activists should shut up on this matter,” he said.

Another legislator who is backing the proposal is Richard Chimwendo who told the conference that the lenient sentences meted on albino killers cannot deter the problem, hence t h e need to impose the ultimate punishment of death.

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“We need to appreciate that both as a deterrent and as a form of permanent incapacitation, the death penalty successfully prevents future crime. If they are hanged, would-be murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life,” he said.

Chimwendo also said those already convicted who were given light jail terms should be re-sentenced.

According to the parliamentarian, the war against albino killings can only be won by taking the battle to the doorsteps of three key players in their syndicates namely the ruthless thugs, the deceitful magicians and the superstitious customers.

“It is a pity that so far, the thugs who kill albinos and the magicians who use albino parts are the ones who are being netted and jailed, while the customers who are the financiers are walking scot free,” he observed.

Adding his voice to the issue, Chairperson for Citizen Alliance, Edward Chileka Banda said any person suspected of killing, abducting and exhumation of persons with albinism should not be granted bail.

“Punishments that are given to people involved in these barbaric attacks have shortfalls of the deterrence power to stop the killings and where possible there is need that punishment be meted on these killers,” he said.

He added: “If government is sending the national security forces to protect forests, why can’t it deploy the troops to protect the people with albinism.”

One person with albinism told the conference that the police are offering them zero protection.

He recounted a recent incident when four people stormed into his business premise in the outskirts of Lilongwe and abused him verbally besides threatening to abduct him.

“I telephoned the police for intervention. I was shocked when all the officers on duty told me was that they had no transport,” he lamented.

Association of People with Albinism in Malawi general secretary Alex Machila said in an interview that as the abductions, grave tampering and murders continue, the country needed to declare a “national crisis.”

Considering that the atrocities are committed against a minority population of 10,000 in a nation of 17 million, Machila argued that the best the government could do was to declare the situation as “a state of crisis” for persons living with albinism.

Malawi and its neighbor Tanzania are battling against albino killings.

While 17 albinos have been killed in Malawi, the number of those murdered in Tanzania hover around 80.

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