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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Situation of persons with albinism in Africa, notably in Malawi

3.10.2017 - (2017/2868(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Elena Valenciano, Victor Boştinaru, Soraya Post on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0543/2017

Procedură : 2017/2868(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Situation of persons with albinism in Africa, notably in Malawi


The European Parliament,

-having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2016 on the situation of persons with albinism in Africa, notably in Malawi,

–having regard to the report of 18 January 2016 of the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism,

–having regard to the EEAS statement of 12 June 2015 on the International Albinism Awareness Day,

–having regard to the EEAS statement of 13 June 2017 on the International Albinism Awareness Day,

–having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 69/170 of 18 December 2014 on an International Albinism Awareness Day,

–having regard to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Resolution 263 of 5 November 2013 on the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism,

–having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

–having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

–having regard to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

–having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious or Linguistic Minorities of 18 December 1992,

–having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

–having regard to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement,

–having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.whereas since the beginning of 2017 a new wave of killings and attacks targeting people with albinism has been fueled by systemic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system which leave members of this vulnerable group at the mercy of criminal gangs. Whereas since January 2017, at least two people with albinism have been killed while seven more have reported crimes such as attempted murder or abduction.

B.whereas despite stronger legislation being introduced in Malawi in 2016, including reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act, this has not prevented the resurgence of killings and attacks against this vulnerable group.

C.whereas the false association between albinism and magical powers poses the most severe threat to PWA’s; whereas such myths motivate violence and trafficking of their body parts to bring luck, health and fortune; whereas PWA women suffer as rape victims, owing to the misconception that sexual intercourse with them can cure HIV/AIDS;

D.whereas albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20 000 people worldwide and an evidently higher rate in sub-Saharan countries, specifically Tanzania, Malawi and Burundi with the highest concentrations of persons with albinism (PWA);

E.whereas PWA are facing extreme violations of human rights, ranging from harassment, persecution, societal discrimination and exclusion, as well as abduction, rape and murder;

F.  whereas women and children with albinism are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion; whereas babies are abandoned due to their condition; whereas children’s education suffers as a result of bullying, stigmatisation and overall fear of attack;

G.  whereas the Tanzanian Government has engaged in serious and tangible action to tackle witchcraft in the country, including the suspension of traditional healers’ licences and numerous arrests of witchdoctors; whereas the Tanzanian President appointed the first member of parliament with albinism in 2008, and the first albino deputy minister in December 2015;

H.  whereas, despite increasing international visibility and the adoption of new legislation in the countries affected, prosecutions and convictions remain very few in number and crimes and torture continue to be committed with total impunity in many African countries;

I.  Whereas on 28 February 2017, Mercy Zainabu Banda, a 31-year-old woman with albinism was found murdered in Lilongwe with her hand, right breast and hair removed: Whereas on 10 January 2017, 19-year-old Madalitso Pensulo was found dead and whereas a nine-year-old boy, Mayeso Isaac, was abducted by a gang of 10 men on 28 May 2017.


J.  whereas discrimination, harassment and stigmatisation has driven migration of hundreds of PWA to areas of refuge in temporary shelters; whereas this situation has caused greater precariousness and insecurity for PWA, limiting their access to basic services such as healthcare and education, their employment opportunities and their participation in society; whereas appropriate medical care, including preventive medication for skin cancer, is restricted by the challenges PWA’s face;

K.  whereas long lasting and even permanent psycho-social damage is caused by life-long fear and discrimination;

L.  whereas, in March 2015, the UN appointed its first independent expert on the human rights of persons with albinism and officially declared 13 June International Albinism Awareness Day;

M.  whereas in June 2016 the UN sponsored the first-ever regional forum for Action on Albinism in Africa, which laid down a roadmap of specific, simple and effective measures to combat human rights abuses against PWA;

N.  whereas the EU has carried out public advocacy campaigns to generate wider awareness on the matter and has supported the engagement of civil society organisations and capacity-building efforts of local authorities in the fight against PWA killings;

1.  Remains highly concerned that despite stronger legislation being introduced in Malawi, this has not prevented a recent resurgence in attacks against PWA. Welcomes the reforms to the Penal Code and the Anatomy Act. Calls however on the Malawian authorities to fully investigate the recent spate of crimes against PWA and bring the perpetrators of albinism related crimes to justice.

2.  Expresses its deep concern at the continuous and widespread discrimination and persecution faced by persons with albinism in Africa, in particular following the recent rise in violence in Malawi; strongly condemns all killings, abductions, mutilations and other inhuman and degrading treatment suffered by PWA and expresses its condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims; condemns also any speculative trading in PWA’s body parts;

3.  recalls that the primary responsibility of a state is to protect its citizens, including vulnerable groups, and calls on the Government of Malawi to offer effective protections for people with albinism, protect their right to life and right to personal security, in accordance with Malawi’s international human rights obligations and commitments.

4.  Urges the Malawian authorities to resource the police to adequately and thoroughly investigate crimes related to albinism, put an end to impunity and to seek, as a matter of urgency, international support to conduct impartial and effective investigations into all reported attacks against PWA in order to bring those responsible to justice and hold them accountable;

5.  Calls on the Malawian Government more effectively to meet the medical, psychological and social needs of PWA by guaranteeing them equal access to healthcare and education, as part of inclusion policies;

6.  Welcomes the efforts made by the Tanzanian Government to combat the discrimination against PWA and its decision to outlaw witchdoctors in a bid to stop the killing of PWA, while acknowledging that too few cases are brought to justice; calls on the government of Malawi, accordingly, to amend existing laws in order to reflect the gravity of crimes against PWA;

7.  Reiterates that more efforts should be put into addressing the root causes of such discrimination and violence through public awareness campaigns; stresses the crucial role of local authorities and civil society organisations in promoting the rights of PWA, informing and educating the population and shattering the myths and prejudices about albinism;

8.  Is concerned at the specific challenges faced by women and children with albinism, which make them more exposed to poverty, insecurity and isolation; insists that all victims should have access to appropriate medical and psychological care, and that adequate policies should be put in place to facilitate their reintegration into their communities;

9.  Calls on the authorities of the countries affected, in cooperation with their international and regional partners, to commit to tackling the harmful superstitious beliefs perpetuating the targeting of people with albinismaking all the necessary measures to prevent and tackle the illegal trade in albinos’ body parts, to revisit cases of suspected grave robberies, to trace and identify the source of demand for such body parts, and to bring the ‘albino hunters’ to justice;

10.  Underlines that the general lack of understanding and health information on albinism tends to aggravate the health condition of PWA; stresses the need to ensure that they have access to healthcare, in particular in rural and remote areas; considers that health personnel should be given sensitivity training on albinism

11.  Calls for improved training of teachers and school administrations on albinism, and for the Malawian authorities to facilitate PWA’s access to and enjoyment of education;

12.  Welcomes the establishment by the UN Human Rights Council of the position of Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism in 2015, and her subsequent launch of the first-ever regional forum for Action of Albinism in Africa in Dar El Salaam, which took place from 17 to 19 June 2016;

13.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to keep engaging with the countries affected in order to effectively support their efforts to formulate policies addressing the special needs and rights of albinos, on the basis of non-discrimination and social inclusion, by providing the necessary financial and technical assistance;

14.  Calls for the EU to continue closely monitoring the human rights situation of PWA in Africa, in particular through regular reporting and follow-up work by its delegations, and to continue to promote significant improvements in their protection and social integration;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Governments and Parliaments of Malawi and Tanzania, the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.