Albino Killing: Barber Gets Death Sentence in Malawi

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Lilongwe: A Malawi Judge on Friday sentenced a 28 year-old barber to death for murdering an albino as the country adopts a hard-line approach to the killing of albinos for body parts.

Justice Maclean Kamwambe sentenced Willard Mikaele to death by hanging for the strangling and ritualistic dismemberment of Mphatso Pensulo in 2017.

The victim was 19 at the time.

According to reports, Mikaele claimed he was advised by a witchdoctor to kill a person with albinism if he wanted to get rich.

In February 2019, United Nations experts warned of more albino killings ahead of general elections set for late May this year.

“Killings and attacks often spike during election periods “because of false beliefs that their body parts can bring good luck and political power when used in witchcraft-related rituals,” the UN human rights experts said in February.

“We call on the Government to urgently address the root causes of these attacks and to strengthen nationwide campaigns to raise awareness, conduct robust investigations and prosecutions in all cases, increase protection for victims, and finance and implement all necessary measures.”

Albinos have been killed in Malawi and some other parts of Africa over the false belief that their body parts can bring good luck and wealth.

Albinism is a rare, genetic condition that causes the skin, eyes, and hair to have little or no color.

Since 2014, 150 cases of killings, attacks and other human rights violations against persons with albinism have been reported in the southeast African nation.

The United Nations warned in 2016 that Malawi’s estimated 10,000 albinos face “extinction” if they continue to be murdered for their body parts.

Malawi’s Albino Association has on several occasions pleaded with the government to declare the country unsafe for those with the genetic condition and help them seek asylum in other countries.

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