UN slams attacks on Tanzania albinos
06 March 2013, 11:55
Geneva - Albinos whose body parts are prized by witch
doctors are being attacked in rising numbers in Tanzania, with children who are
still alive having their limbs chopped off, the top UN human rights official
said on Tuesday.
"I strongly condemn these vicious killings and attacks,
which were committed in particularly horrifying circumstances, and which have
involved dismembering people, including children, while they are still
alive," Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a
The killing and mutilation of people with albinism - a
congenital disorder caused by the absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes
- is often linked to witchcraft, the statement said.
Some practitioners seem to believe the witchcraft is more
powerful if the victim screams during the amputation, which is why the body
parts are often hacked from live victims, it said.
Prosecutions are rarely successful, with only five known
cases of convictions out of the 72 murders of people with albinism documented
in Tanzania since 2000, it said.
"These crimes are abhorrent," Pillay said.
Four attacks targeting people with albinism, including three
children, have been documented in Tanzania from January 31-February 15, she
said. The crimes also reflected underlying discrimination.
Lugolola Bunzari, a 7-year-old boy with albinism, was
brutally murdered in Kanunge village in Tabora region on January 31, according
to Pillay, a South African lawyer who is also a former judge of the
International Criminal Court.
"His attackers slashed his forehead, right arm and left
shoulder and chopped off his left arm just above the elbow," she said,
adding that the boy's 95-year-old grandfather also was killed as he tried to
protect the boy.
Maria Chambanenge, a 39-year-old female albino, was attacked
on February 11 by five armed men in Mkowe village in Rukwa region, who were
later arrested, she said.
"They hacked off her left arm while she was sleeping
with two of her four children," Pillay said.
"The Tanzanian authorities have the primary
responsibility to protect people with albinism, and to fight against impunity,
which is a key component for prevention and deterrence of the crimes targeting
this exceptionally vulnerable community," she added.