Watch the CBC's short documentary about conditions in Tanzania where Under the Same Sun's efforts are focused.
Alert: Some viewers might find this documentary very upsetting not least because of the stories and images but also because justice is slow in coming to the victims and their families.
The UN Human Rights Office received reports from 15 countries between 2000 and 2013 on more than 200 cases of attacks against persons living with albinism (PWA). It is believed that these figures might well run much higher as many attacks might be unreported or undocumented due to the marginalization of the victims from early childhood not to mention the environment of the crimes.
Since the genetic rarity inherited by persons with albinism also means that their condition is still profoundly socially and medically misunderstood, their physical appearance can also be the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition which can result in dehumanization, abandonment, stigma, infanticide/murder, neglect at every level, mutilations, rape, discrimination and bullying. According to Peter Ash, CEO of Under the Same Sun, “Persons with albinism are not even safe in death: their graves can be robbed and their organs trafficked.”
In 2013, the UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, presented a report to the Human Rights Council on the attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism, and expressed concern about the access to justice, remedies and redress for these attacks. Because of the recrudescence of attacks against persons with albinism, particularly in parts of Africa, where the ratio of PWA is higher (up to ten times reported), the Human Rights Council adopted a number of resolutions (23/13 and 24/33), as did the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at the end of 2013, calling for the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism.
Although it would appear that some rights are covered such as blindness or discrimination due to colour, Peter Ash, says that “We would like persons with albinism to be considered as a specific group with particular needs that must be given special attention in international human rights law.” The UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee is currently conducting a yearlong study on the human rights situation of PWA to be presented at the Council’s 28th session next year.
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Andrew Conradi ofs