A 'resurgence' in attacks on people with albinism

Amnesty International say systematic failures have emboldened killers as attacks on people with albinism continue.

, | | Human Rights, Africa, Malawi

Since late 2014, at least 117 people with albinism have been attacked in Malawi. Children and adults have had their limbs hacked off with kitchen knives and machetes. Around 20 have been killed.

About nine people have been attacked so far this year, at least two fatally. 

Their attackers often believe that their bones possess magical powers and can be sold for large sums of money.

A recent Al Jazeera investigation found that a toxic mix of witchcraft and poverty - together with the inability of the courts to successfully prosecute many of the cases - is allowing the attacks to continue.

READ MORE: Killed for their bones - on the trail of the trade in human body parts

According to Amnesty International, few cases result in a conviction.

"Despite stronger legislation ... to tackle attacks against people with albinism, we are seeing an alarming resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group in 2017," Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's regional director for southern Africa, said in a statement on June 13.

"The authorities must take decisive measures to end these attacks once and for all."

Malawi's government insists that it is continuing to look for ways to safeguard the community, and Nicholas Dausi, the minister of information, told Al Jazeera that his government has noticed a reduction in attacks on people with albinism.

In the latest incident in May, a nine-year-old Malawian boy, Mayeso Isaac, was abducted during a trip to Mozambique. Amnesty International said both the Malawian and Mozambican authorities have
an obligation to ensure a speedy and effective investigation into his disappearance. Dausi told Al Jazeera that the police were investigating the case.

Albinism is a genetically inherited condition that often results in a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. Between 7,000 and 10,000 Malawians have albinism.


Commenting has been disabled. To find out more, click here.