Malawi 2016/2017

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Malawi 2016/2017

Attacks against people with albinism continued; at least seven people were killed and their bodies mutilated. People with albinism also continued to suffer social isolation. Student protests over fee increases were violently repressed. Political opponents of the government were arrested and charged with treason.

Discrimination – people with albinism

People with albinism continued to be subjected to violent attacks and mutilations.1 Although senior government officials, including the President, publicly condemned the attacks, victims and their relatives continued to be denied justice and reparations.

In March, a Special Legal Counsel was appointed to assist the prosecution of crimes related to people with albinism. In July, Parliament passed revisions to the Anatomy Act and Penal Code that increased the penalties for the sale of body tissue and possession of a dead body or human tissue. They were signed into law in September.

At least seven people with albinism were killed during 2016 and many more suffered attacks. Among those killed by criminal gangs were 23-month-old baby Whitney Chilumpha and nine-year-old Harry Mokoshoni.

In May, unidentified men killed and mutilated Fletcher Masina, a man with albinism, while he was working in his garden.

In July, Lucia Kainga was attacked and had her right hand chopped off by unidentified men in Mweneipenza 5 village, bordering Tanzania. Her husband was tricked into opening the door by an attacker pretending to be in need of help.

On 19 August, a village headman was arrested after attempting to sell a seven-year-old boy with albinism in Phalombe district. He was remanded in custody pending trial.

Societal ignorance and stigmatization also contributed to people with albinism suffering widespread denial of their economic, social and cultural rights. This included: exclusion from government poverty alleviation programmes; lack of support in schools to address bullying and learning difficulties; failure to address their specific medical needs; and lack of economic opportunities.

Repression of dissent

In February, three parliamentarians of the Malawi Congress Party were arrested: Congress spokesperson Jessie Kabwila. Ulemu Msungama and Peter Chankwantha. They were charged with treason in connection with social media messages and released on bail. Their arrest contravened procedures protecting parliamentarians from arrest.

In July, students from the University of Malawi protested against a three fold rise in tuition fees imposed by the government. At Chancellor College in Zomba, police stormed hostels and fired tear gas at students who sought refuge in their rooms. A video showed police slapping two women students. On 26 July, 14 students from Malawi Polytechnic near Blantyre were arrested and charged with conduct likely to breach the peace. They were later released on bail. Eleven students from Kamuzu College of Nursing were also arrested and charged with “proposing violence”. They were later released on bail.

  1. Malawi: "We are not animals to be hunted or sold" − violence and discrimination against people with albinism in Malawi (AFR 36/4126/2016)

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Get the Amnesty International Report 2016/17