Lilongwe, Malawi, May 25, 2016 / 02:02 am
Amid increased violence against albinos in the southeastern African nation of Malawi, the bishops' justice and peace commission has condemned their killing, which is linked to the practice of witch doctors.
“Albinos are being abducted and killed for ritual purposes. Graves have been exhumed and some people have been caught by the police with bones and other albino body parts,” Martin Chiphwanya, acting national coordinator of Malawi's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, said in a May 21 statement.
Across Africa – from Malawi, Tanzania, and Burundi in the east, to Cameroon in the west – albinos are targeted because it is believed they have magical powers or bring good luck. They are killed, and their body parts sold to be used in potions made by witch doctors.
Chiphwanya commented that Malawi needs a multi-faceted approach to the problem, involving police, government, religious, and traditional leaders. He recommended looking to Malawi's neighbor Tanzania, which he said had dealt with is similar problem.
The Malawian government has increased its efforts recently to combat albino killings. On its invitation, an official from the United Nations Human Rights Commission visited Malawi last month.
“Persons with albinism in Malawi are being attacked, abducted and killed. Even in death, they do not rest in peace as their remains are robbed from graveyards,” Ikponwosa Ero said in her report following her visit to Malawi.
“These atrocities occur due to the misbelief that their body parts can grant benefits such as wealth and good luck when used in witchcraft.”
It has been reported that a single limb from the body of an albino can fetch $2,000 on the black market, and an entire corpse as much as $75,000.