Rights groups warn resurgence of killings and abductions of persons with albinism in Malawi spells dangerous escalation

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Updated: March 2, 2021

Amnesty International and the Association of Persons with Albinism on Thursday warned that the resurgence of killings and abduction of persons with albinism in Malawi, with the attempted abduction of a 12-year-old and the killing of 26-year-old last week, shows  a dangerous escalation for the safety of the vulnerable group.

A 12-year-old girl with albinism narrowly survived abduction by two unknown assailants who broke into her home in Machinga district on 3 February, while the body of Saidi Dyton is still missing following the arrest of three suspects who confessed to his killing on 27 January.

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“The latest attempted abduction of a 12-year-old girl and the missing body of Saidi Dyton are a chilling reminder of how life has become dangerous for persons with albinism in Malawi,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

“People with albinism are simply not safe in Malawi, whether in their homes or on the street. These attacks are fuelled by a culture of impunity which has been gone on for past related crimes. Malawian authorities must swiftly move to bring suspected perpetrators of these latest crimes to justice in fair trials.”

In the past four months alone, there have been seven recorded attacks against people with albinism in the country, ranging from killings, tampering of graves, attempted abductions and physical violence. Amnesty International has consistently called for thorough and transparent investigations into these crimes, and accountability for the murders of people with albinism. Cases of attacks on this vulnerable group remain largely unresolved.

The number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at approximately 170 cases, including more than 20 murders since November 2014.

“The government of Malawi has an obligation under domestic and international human rights law to protect people with albinism and ensure justice to the victims of the attacks and killings,” said Menard Zacharia, Executive Director of the Association of Persons with Albinism.

“Authorities must intensify their investigations to finalise all outstanding cases, including apprehending the fourth suspect in Saidi’s case and find his body.”

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