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Parliament optimistic on solutions to albino killing

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By Macdonald Thom:

A joint parliamentary committee on violence against persons with albinism has expressed optimism that consultations it had with stakeholders last week would bring lasting solutions to the killing and abduction of such people.

The committees—Legal Affairs, Social Welfare and Community Services and Defence and Security— had consultations with the stakeholders from Tuesday to Friday.

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The joint committee’s chairperson, Richard Chimwendo-Banda, said they have noted many gaps in the fight against the attacks.

“As [the] government, we have not been responsive enough in terms of providing adequate resources as well as ensuring a good environment for our colleagues to do their job.

“One of the key issues we have come to understand is that of homicide cases. There are 23 of them that have not been concluded. Right now, 10 are in courts. Once we conclude the 10, the punitive sentences that will be given will be deterrent enough,” he said.

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He said a report on the consultations would be presented to Parliament, which reconvenes Tuesday.

Some of the stakeholders which the committee engaged were Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam), Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Malawi Police Service and Presidential Taskforce on the Protection of Persons with Albinism.

In an interview after members of the Judiciary appeared before the joint committee, High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Registrar, Agnes Patemba, said many factors affect the conclusion of cases on attacks of people with albinism.

“The Judiciary does not sit alone. In the High Court, it sits with the DPP. In magistrate courts, with the police prosecutors and even Legal Aid [Bureau] on the other hand or even lawyers. So, when you are talking about the Judiciary, it is not just the court alone. It sits with other stakeholders.

“So, there are all those issues whereby the police say witnesses are not ready. You cannot proceed when witnesses are not available. Maybe one of the institutions has not been funded and another has the resources. You cannot proceed if the court doesn’t have funds,” she said.

Meanwhile, despite President Peter Mutharika meeting persons with albinism in Lilongwe on Thursday, Apam President, Overstone Kondowe, has said they would still hold a vigil at Kamuzu Palace gates in Lilongwe from March 6 to 8 2019.

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