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United Nations wants more action on albino attacks

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

KONDOWE—There is no political will

The United Nations (UN) in Malawi has called for more action in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for attacks on people with albinism.

While welcoming strides made in a case in which 12 people are answering charges in relation to the killing of a, a young man with albinism early this year, UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, has said more has to be done to stem cases of attacks.

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“The UN is concerned, however, about continuing attacks against persons with albinism. We note that at least 10 people with albinism remain missing in Malawi, the most recent being the case of Joseph Kachingwe, a 12-year-old boy who went missing in July 2018 in Phalombe after attending Independence [Day] celebrations. We call on the authorities to intensify their efforts to resolve these outstanding cases,” reads the statement.

The statement also says, on August 16 2018, a five-year-old boy with albinism narrowly escaped abduction in Chikwawa District.

It, therefore, calls for enhanced protection and support for victims and family members, and enhanced awareness raising, in line with the National Action Plan on Albinism.

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“We call on the government to prioritise investigations and prosecutions of crimes against persons with albinism in Malawi, in line with commitments made at the High Level Meeting on Albinism in Lilongwe on 13 June 2018 and the recommendations of Justice Redson Kapindu in his recent study on challenges and best practices in investigations, prosecutions and sentencing in offences against persons with albinism in Malawi,” says Jose-Torres in the statement.

In the statement, the UN further observes that, as of June 2018, 45 out of 145 cases of crimes against persons with albinism had been finalised by the courts, albeit with only one High Court case concluded.

Association of People with Albinism President, Overstone Kondowe, has, meanwhile, lauded the UN for calling for more action, describing it as a mark of solidarity.

However, National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera, said he could not comment on the issues.

He said he was tongue-tied because some of the cases are in court.

He was, however, quick to say the Malawi Police Service has put in place measures to ensure that the rights of people with albinism are safeguarded.

“We are geared to making sure that people with albinism are safe. For example, recently, we have had two cases in Blantyre where police officers rescued people with albinism from suspected abductors. We are very alert. We are doing something but we need support from members of the general public,” Kadadzera said.

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