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Parliament wants foreign experts on people with albinism attacks

By Audrey Kapalamula:

The Joint Parliamentary Committee that probed issues surrounding attacks, on people with albinism (pwa) has recommended to the government to request for assistance from foreign security agencies to help investigate and uncover markets for albino body tissues.

The committee comprised of Social and Community Affairs, Legal affairs and Defence and Security.

In a report presented to the august House Tuesday, the committee said such foreign agencies could provide direction in terms of sophisticated investigative and interrogation techniques.

“The committee recognises the capacity gaps that exist within the country’s law enforcement agencies. Such gaps have compromised the quality of investigations that have been conducted in the course of these crimes. Notably, the committee is worried with the lack of clarity on the issues of existence and location of the said market,” the report reads.

The committee’s chairperson, Richard Chimwendo-Banda, said there was need to put the matter to rest in order to dispel rumours that fuel other opportunistic crimes in Malawi.

Chimwendo-Banda also said there has been inadequate financial resources to address the continued cases of the attacks.

“[The] government has released K45 million out of the K3.1 billion needed for the implementation of the Action Plan alone over a four-year period. The Malawi Judiciary alone estimated a need for at least K30 million to timely hear and conclude 10 albino-related cases that are before the courts. The continued absence of adequate resources provides grave challenges in terms of prevention and addressing cases of the violence,” he said.

The committee also said most pwa are easily targeted due to lack of protected houses as the government — through Ministry of Lands, Urban and Housing and Ministry of Gender Children, Disabilities and Social Welfare— has only provided four houses.

The committee also wants the government to relocate all pwa living in hard-to-reach areas and prioritise them in various social protection programmes.

Commenting on the matter, Mangochi-South Member of Parliament (MP), Lilian Patel, wondered why Malawi continues to face escalating cases of attacks when a delegation went to Tanzania to learn how they managed to end the attacks.

“There was a delegation that went to Tanzania along with Chairperson of Apam [Overstone Kondowe] and came with a report. We heard in the media about the arrest of witchdoctors who were cheating people. People were arrested. I would think that people who went to Tanzania could have used the information gathered on measures to deal with the attacks. Malawi has a bad image out there,” she said.

Mzimba-South MP, Agnes Nyalonje, said there is a leadership crisis, hence the failure to end cases of attacks.

Since 2014, police have recorded 162 cases, of which 28 were recorded in 2018 while 11 have been recorded in the first two months of 2019.

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