Apam demands probe reports on persons with albinism

The Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has demanded the release of findings of inquiries government carried out into killings, attacks and abductions of people with albinism (PWAs) and purported markets for their bodies.

Apam executive members led by national coordinator Overstone Kondowe made the demands in Lilongwe yesterday when they met presidential adviser on civil society organisations (CSOs) Mavuto Bamusi.

Mutharika follows a presentation during a previous meeting with PWAs

During the meeting called to get updates from PWAs on opportunities President Peter Mutharika offered them and other challenges they are facing, Kondowe said it was sad that it has taken long for the findings to be made public; hence, their demand for the release of the reports.

He said: “Much as we appreciate that some demands we made in our petitions have been addressed, especially through the 2019/20 National Budget, we are still waiting for findings of inquiries that were instituted.

“All the three inquiries into markets and killings and abductions of PWAs by the President, Malawi Human Rights Commission and Malawi Police Service haven’t yet been released. What is taking them so long?”

Kondowe also said it was suspicious that findings of one prime suspect of PWAs tissue markets, Buleya Lule, who died while in police custody, are not yet out.

He said: “We demand the findings for Lule because we believe he said something. Was there a sinister action?”

In his response, Bamusi said his office as an intermediary between Apam and the President, would take the issues raised to Mutharika and would give feedback by January.

“On the reports of the commission of inquiry into the attacks of PWAs, what is remaining is for the report to be available to PWAs. I will make a personal effort to tell the President and by January we will meet again and will update you,” he said.

In an interview later, Bamusi described the dialogue with Apam as fruitful, observing that the leadership freely expressed outstanding issues raised during their earlier meeting with the President.

In the 2019/20 National Budget, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said K1billion was allocated towards implementation of a National Action Plan for the Protection of PWAs.

Out of the K1 billion, K600 million was allocated to construct houses for the PWAs and K400 million for the implementation of the action plan.

However, Apam urged the need for transparency and accountability on the funds allocated for the implementation of the action plan to avoid abuse.

In the run up to the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, assaults, abductions and killings of PWAs increased. However, after the elections, the incidences have drastically reduced.

PWAs, whose population in the country is about 130 000 according to the 2018 Population and Housing Census, are targeted for their body parts.

Since November 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albinism in Malawi has risen to 152 cases, including 25 murders and more than10 people missing, according to Apam.

Malawi is among 28 countries experiencing violations against people living with albinism and it contributes 30 percent of the total 600 cases in the affected countries. Similar attacks have occurred in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa.

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