Malawi: Beheading of nine-year-old boy with albinism - a "heinous crime"

The sickening discovery of the severed head of a nine-year-old boy with albinism in Malawi reinforces the urgent need for the government to protect this vulnerable minority group, said Amnesty International today.  

 

Police confirmed they found the head of the boy who was abducted from his home at Moto village in Malawi's eastern district of Machinga last Friday (26 February).

 

Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena said:

 

“The discovery of the head of a nine-year-old boy with albinism who was abducted in front of his mother, shows the grave danger faced by people with albinism in Malawi. The police must urgently and thoroughly investigate the matter and bring to justice anyone suspected of carrying out this heinous crime.

 

“The government must immediately take steps to ensure the safety and security of people with albinism and their families, especially in border districts, and provide much needed protection for this vulnerable group who are increasingly being targeted for their body parts. These ritual killings must stop.”

 

In January a woman with albinism was killed, and the beheading of this nine-year-old boy takes the number of albinism-related deaths in Malawi to two since the start of this year. At least 11 people are known to have been victims of ritual killings since December 2014. Five others are still missing.

 

The lack of adequate police protection has also led to vigilante murders. On Tuesday, a mob burnt to death seven men allegedly found with bones of a person with albinism in southern Malawi's border district of Nsanje.

 

Deprose Muchena added:

 

“Vigilante violence targeting suspects of any crime is unacceptable. The government should encourage the public to report anyone they suspect of involvement in criminal acts to the police who should investigate the crime. Justice cannot be achieved by people taking the law into their own hands.”

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