The horrific murder of a two-year-old girl with albinism highlights the failure by the Malawi’s authorities to protect this vulnerable group, said Amnesty International following the discovery of her skull, teeth and the clothes she was wearing in Balantha Hill in Kasungu district.
The child, Whitney Chilumpha, had been missing since being abducted from her home whilst sleeping beside her mother in Chiziya village, Kasungu district, on 3 April. She is the twelfth person with albinism known to have been killed in Malawi since December 2014.
Earlier, a United Nations expert warned in her first report to the UN Human Rights Council that people with albinism are being hunted for witchcraft rituals, their body parts hacked off with machetes, and even having their graves desecrated.
“The murder of this innocent child is part of a deeply disturbing pattern of disappearances and killings of people with albinism in Malawi where body parts are sold for use in witchcraft,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southern Africa.
“The Malawian authorities have failed to protect the vulnerable group and this latest horrific incident should galvanise them into action. Not only must the perpetrators of this crime be brought to justice, but people with albinism must be offered effective protection. Authorities must put a stop to these barbaric killings.”
Meanwhile, according to Amnesty, police have confirmed in a statement that they are keeping the father of the child and another man in custody in connection with the “criminal act”.
At least 12 people with albinism are known to have been killed in Malawi since December 2014. Five others have been abducted during the same period and have not been found. Amnesty believes that the figures could be higher.
In 2015 alone, 45 other crimes against people with albinism, including attempted abductions and opening up of graves in search of bones of dead people with albinism, were reported.
Photo courtesy: OHCHR