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Malawi government to conduct research on albino killings

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The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare says the government has acquired resources from Norwegian government to be used in research aimed at establishing the people and reasons behind the killings and abductions of people living with albinism.

Between late last year and early this year, the country experienced a spate of attacks on people living with albinism which led to deaths and abductions.

Speaking during the activities marking International Albinism Awareness Day in Mulanje on Saturday, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, did not disclose the amount of money involved but said the research project will be used to develop effective means of ending the malpractice.

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Currently, some quarters believe the persecution of people with albinism occurs due to the belief that their body parts can transmit some magical powers and witchdoctors use them to bring prosperity.

“Mostly, we accuse traditional healers for organising these killings and abductions. But when we meet those African doctors to establish the truth, they say they are not in any way responsible for that. And others keep on saying the body parts are sold across the borders but we do not know where. So, we need to find the root cause of this problem and come up with measures that will help in ending these killings and abductions,” Kaliati said.

Executive Director of Association of People with Albinism (Apam) Boniface Massah described the killings and abductions as a very shameful situation for the country.

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“This is a strange experience for Malawi. It was not there in the past but now we see abductions and killings of people with albinism. Our key message is that people should understand and accept us the way we are. We are human beings and our rights must be respected and protected,” Massah said.

Kaliati also said the magistrates from across the country are expected to meet in Zomba this week where they will be drilled on laws to be used in prosecuting people involved in killings and abductions of people living with albinism.

“We have different legislation which can be used to punish those people who are convicted of killing or abducting people with albinism but these magistrates may not be aware of such laws. Next week we will have a meeting of all magistrates so that when they are interpreting the laws they should know which laws to use.

“We will also do the same with prosecutors because they are the ones who assist these magistrates and take the cases to the courts. We think we may be accusing the magistrates and yet the problem is with the prosecutors,” she said.

When Apam expressed its dissatisfaction on the rulings in some abductions cases in March this year, law expert Mandala Mambulasa said the complaints could be a result of the police prosecutors’ lack of access to strong passed laws.

He also said the magistrates’ act in accordance with their jurisdiction which means when sentencing a convict, the magistrates will only act within their mandate.

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