Rights groups say thugs taking advantage of Covid to resume attacks on persons with albinism


The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) say thugs have taken advantage of authorities’ pre-occupation with Coronavirus pandemic to resume attacks on persons with albinism.

CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa and CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence said this in a statement following the resurfacing of attacks on persons with albinism in the country.

On 3 February, a 12-year-old girl with albinism narrowly survived abduction by two unknown assailants who broke into her home in Machinga while Saidi Dyton aged 26 was killed by thugs for his body parts last week in Mangochi.

In their statement, the two organisations said the recent cases are a sign that the trade in body parts of persons with albinism is still very much alive in this country and that Malawi has relaxed efforts to protect persons with albinism.

According to the two oganisations, they have previously warned that killers will take advantage of Malawi’s preoccupation with COVID-19 to resume attacks against persons with albinism

“There is no doubt that as the country continues to grapple with this pandemic, groups like persons with albinism will continue to face a wide array of security threats –some of them exacerbated by the response to the pandemic, others created by it.

“These security risks could worsen as government takes extreme measures to respond to the pandemic. While government must do everything it possibly can to stop the pandemic, it must also urgently plan for the impact of this pandemic on the security of vulnerable groups,” reads part of the statement.

The organisations have since urged government and all key stakeholders to redouble efforts to implement the 2015 National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism, is more pressing now than ever in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan outlines measures that need to be taken to stop this malpractice, including nationwide awareness-raising campaigns, scaling up security for persons with albinism and strengthening prosecutions of perpetrators.

The organisations said these measures must not be relaxed, scaled back or put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.