Amnesty International says the incoming Malawi government should improve the capacity of the police to deal with attacks against persons with albinism.
The rights group said this in a statement yesterday as Malawians are expected to vote in presidential, parliamentary and local council elections next week.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said: “It is time for the country to break with years of impunity for the killings and mutilation of people with albinism; atrocities which remain unresolved owing to criminal justice failures and ineffective criminal investigations.”
In its statement, Amnesty noted that Malawian police have raised concerns about delays in concluding trials due to the limited number of senior magistrates qualified to deal with cases relating to people with albinism.
The organisation said that police officers are empowered to prosecute suspected perpetrators of crimes but the law enforcers have limited legal training and they lack forensic skills and financial resources resulting in a backlog of cases.
Amnesty also observed that the vast majority of cases involving crimes against people with albinism do not go before a court because of a lack of funds and legal aid support for suspected perpetrators.
It added that where cases were brought to court, the accused were often released due to flawed investigations and a lack of relevant admissible evidence.
“The incoming government of Malawi must prioritise rebuilding the criminal justice system, ensuring that it works for all people, including people with albinism who are some of society’s most vulnerable individuals,” Deprose Muchena said.
“The first step is to ensure sufficient funding for the judiciary and prioritise training for prosecutors to effectively deal with cases of attacks on people with albinism.
“People with albinism deserve justice for the hateful crimes against them. The impunity must stop,” Muchena said.
In Malawi, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism has risen to over 163 cases, including 22 murders since November 2014.