Four Tanzanians sentenced to death for killing an albino man

Amnesty international has welcomed the efforts by the Tanzanian government to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of an albino man. But the organization said that it deplored the fact that four people were sentenced to death by hanging on Monday for the killing. Amnesty International opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases. The organization also called on the authorities to do more to protect albinos from such killings. More than 20 albino people are reported to have been killed in 2009. This brings the total number of albino people killed during the last two years to over 50. Very few perpetrators of albino killings and mutilations have ever been brought to justice. “While we welcome the prosecution of those suspected to be involved in the killing and mutilation of albino people, the death penalty is not the solution to these terrible practices and crimes,” said Godfrey Odongo, Amnesty International researcher based in Kampala, Uganda. The discriminatory killing and mutilation of albino people is driven by cultural beliefs held by some in Tanzania and other countries that albino body parts can make people rich. “The Tanzanian government has to do more to protect albino people from these killings, but that should not include imposing the death penalty,” said Godfrey Odongo. “Police investigations are painfully slow and the overall government effort to prevent the killings is inadequate. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, but in a way that respects the rights of all the people of Tanzania. Applying the death penalty to perpetrators of the killings only compounds the problem – with the government sending a message that human life is expendable.” Although dozens of people suspected of being involved in the murder and mutilation of albino people have been arrested, thus far only two cases have ended up in court judgements – the case decided on Monday and another in September, in which three men were convicted and sentenced to death. “The authorities have a clear duty of care towards albino people and to protect the general population from violence,” said Godfrey Odongo. “This duty is best served by ensuring that those who commit violent acts are held to account by the judicial system. However, punishments that amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment must not be imposed. This includes the death penalty, which amounts to a violation of the most fundamental human rights: the right to life.”