Apam wants Anatomy law applied retrospectively

The Association for Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has asked the Judiciary to retry all cases involving attacks on persons with albinism in line with the newly-assented to Anatomy Act.

The association argues applying the law in retrospect would ensure that all perpetrators of violence against persons with albinism get equal justice.

Mutharika (seated centre) with some people with albinism when he had a meeting with them at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe
Mutharika (seated centre) with some people with albinism when he had a meeting with them at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe

President Peter Mutharika early September 2016 assented to the Anatomy Act, which the National Assembly amended in April this year to impose stiffer penalties on people convicted of possession of human tissue.

Section 18 includes outlaws possession of a body of a deceased person or human tissue and the penalty has been increased to life imprisonment without the option of the fine.

Apam president Overstone Kondowe on Monday applauded Mutharika for assenting to the Act, noting that this will go a long way in enhancing the security and protecting the rights of persons with albinism in the country.

Said Kondowe: “Of course, the law itself is not enough to achieve full protection and security of persons with albinism. There are a number of structures, such as the Judiciary, that need to be strengthened and fully sensitised on the rights of persons with albinism if Malawi is to win this battle.”

He also pointed out that the Judiciary needs to apply the law in retrospect to ensure that all perpetrators of violence against albinos get equal justice.

He observed that perpetrators of violence against persons with albinism used to get lenient sentences because the law then did not provide for stiffer penalties.

But Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said they have no right to start hunting and retrying people who were already tried, convicted and sentenced.

“If a certain party feels the sentence in a certain matter was not appropriate, it has to appeal to move the court to retry it so that an appropriate sentence is meted on the convict,” he explained.

He said the Judiciary has, however, put in measure to “increase jurisdiction” of the Anatomy Act by assigning all cases relating to attacks against persons with albinism to Senior Resident Magistrates (SRM) and above.

Meanwhile, Kondowe has urged government and its stakeholders to collaborate in a campaign aimed to publicise the amended Anatomy law to ensure it achieves its effective and intended purpose of protecting the rights of people with albinism.

Share This Post