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Malawi: 'horrific' killing of three-year-old girl with albinism must be properly investigated

© LAWILINK/Amnesty International

Amnesty International is urging the Malawian authorities to urgently improve the protection of people with albinism across the country following the ‘shocking’ killing of three-year-old Tadala Chirwa this week.

Just before midnight on Wednesday (30 November), an unidentified man broke into Tadala Chirwa’s grandmother’s house where she was sleeping and killed her before chopping off her left arm and taking it away.

The attack follows the attempted abduction of a two-year old boy with albinism in Phalombe district, in the south of the country, on 19 November.

Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for Southern Africa, said:

“The horrific nature of the death of Tadala Chirwa is deeply shocking and a cause of great concern.

“This killing and the removal of a limb is consistent with past patterns on attacks on persons with albinism, which are driven by the false belief that their body parts bring wealth and good luck.

“Authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the killing of Tadala Chirwa and ensure that those suspected of responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials.

“The authorities must also take urgent steps to guarantee the safety and security of persons with albinism in Malawi, including by investigating all past attacks and delivering justice for victims and their families.”

Attacks on people with albinism

The attack took place in Mawawa village, near the town of Kasungu, in central Malawi, before midnight on 30 November. Tadala Chirwa was reportedly sleeping in the same bed with her grandmother when an unidentified man broke into the house, stabbed the child in the neck, chopped off her arm, and fled.

The killing follows a series of attacks on people with albinism in recent months. On 19 November, a toddler was asleep with his mother and a sibling when three masked assailants tried to force their way into their home. The mother managed to get her family to safety. In another incident in October, the body of a person with albinism who had died was illegally exhumed from a grave and their legs and arms were removed.

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