The very first report by the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism (PWA), Ikponwosa Ero, has recently been presented to the Human Rights Council. In this unprecedented report, the Independent Expert presents a number of reflections on the human rights situation of persons with albinism alongside her vision on her work as Independent Expert.
Global Disability Watch has been consistently reporting on the attacks on PWA over the past months and welcomes the presentation of this report. GDW hopes that the incisive mapping of the root causes and documentation of attacks can attack as fertile ground for concerted awareness, and more importantly action. The latter is long overdue.
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition that affects people worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. It results from a significant deficit in the production of melanin and is characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.
The report maps out the background to a situation of persistent rights violations, with an unavoidable focus on many African countries, where PWA continue to be victims of serious attacks, dismembering, killings and kidnapping. Beliefs in the magical properties of the body parts of PWA, have spurred a treacherous hunt in countries such as Tanzania and Malawi. Body parts fetch a high price, driving attacks by gangs and even family members.
These attacks continue to confine PWA to a life of profound fear and isolation. In some countries children have been placed in shelters, including police stations, spaces not designed or adapted to the needs of PWA and the numbers of those needing protection is consistently growing. The lives of PWA are further exposed to early skin cancer risk and other forms of abuse.
The report documents the profound discrimination and barriers faced by PWA and that restrict their participation in society. The report goes on to emphasise how while there are legal and policy foundations to most of the human rights violations faced by persons with albinism, they have not yet been consolidated and there are no specific instruments or guidelines on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism — a gap that the Independent Expert wishes to address in consultation with stakeholders.
It goes on to note how despite ongoing reports of attacks and killings, States continue to violate their obligation to ensure the right to life and the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment by failing to take appropriate measures to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish.
Download the full report here