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Government, activists condemn albino killing

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By Faith Kamtambe:

Civil society organisations (CSOs) have condemned the recent murder of Yasin Phiri, a person with albinism, in Nkhata Bay on the eve of New Year’s Day.

In a joint press statement released Wednesday, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Centre for the Development of People, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) have condemned the act.

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The CSOs say the killing is a sign that the government has failed to protect people with albinism in the country.

“We are concerned and moved by the resurfacing of gruesome attacks on persons with albinism and strongly condemn the gruesome murder of Yasin Phiri. The killing of Phiri is the latest sign that government has failed to protect people with albinism while attacks against persons with albinism have largely been stopped in countries like Tanzania and Kenya owing to good leadership,” reads part of the statement.

It also says, in Malawi, people with albinism continue to be attacked despite the government putting in place measures to stop the attacks.

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“Even worse, government is failing to prosecute those responsible for the killings and is dragging its feet on the few cases that have actually made it to court. Statistics show that the rate at which cases are concluded is slow compared to other crimes investigations: only 30 percent out of 148 cases reported,” reads the statement.

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) also released a statement on Wednesday condemning the incident.

“So far, Malawi has registered 146 perpetrated crimes against persons with albinism from 2014, out of which 21 are murder cases. The commission reiterates that this is another shocking reminder of the lapses by responsible authorities to eradicate the targeted attacks on persons living with albinism.”

“The continued attacks towards persons with albinism are not only inhumane but unconstitutional and reflective of the State’s failure to uphold its constitutional duty to protect their rights,” reads the statement signed by its executive secretary David Nungu.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Police Service has said it would track down perpetrators of heinous crime and bring them to book.

In a statement released on Wednesday, signed by police spokesperson James Kadadzera, police say they are investigating the matter.

“The Inspector General of Police (IG) and the entire MPS [Malawi Police Service] condole the family of the deceased. The IG also assures all Malawians that the Malawi Police Service will do everything within its powers to ensure that the senseless killing of people with albinism comes to an end,” Kadadzera said.

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