By: Stella Zulu Kaferapanjira
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Malawi has tipped journalists on their role in defending rights of persons with albinism through unearthing and investigating issues that affect enjoyment of human rights by people with albinism in the country.
This was said during a Media advocacy session that took place at Riverside hotel in Lilongwe on the 20th of Augusts, 2021. The meeting was meant to bring to light hidden realities, experiences and issues underlying the enjoyment of the right to access to justice and health care for persons with albinism in Malawi and to inform policy positions on the rights situation of persons with albinism in various spheres of life among others.
Speaking during the engagement, CCJP’s National Governance Programs Coordinator Mr. George Chiusiwa said persons with albinism are facing various violations of their rights, a problem which the media can help to addressed.
“As media practitioners, you have an important role to play regarding the protection and promotion of rights of persons with albinism through holding duty bearers accountable and investigate human rights violations and bringing to light issues that have not been established in order to address issues persons with albinism are facing in health, education and access to justice in the country.” Said Mr. Chiusiwa.
He continued that despite the presence of international human rights treaties and declarations and national laws in the country meant to safeguard and protect the rights of people with albinism for example the Disability Act, the National disability mainstreaming strategy, the National action plan on Persons with albinism, their operationalization and implementation have not fully realized.
CCJP with funding from European Union through SCIAF, is therefore, implementing a project to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with albinism focusing on the rights to access to justice and health care in Zomba and Machinga districts in the diocese of Zomba.
It is through this project that CCJP engaged the media to help in bringing to light issues on attacks, abduction and killings and other human rights issues affecting persons with albinism in Malawi to attract actions from duty bearers and also creating awareness on the rights of persons with albinism.
On his part, Zacchaeus Mwase from the Association of Person with albinism in Malawi (APAM) complained that media houses focus much on attacks of persons with albinism while other issues like access to justice by person with albinism, cases taking long to be investigated by the police and missing of case files, welfare of persons with albinism in terms of shelter, access to education, health care, economic opportunities and social exclusion, which worsen their situation are being left out.
Malawi currently has 134,636 persons with albinism of which 87% of them live in rural areas and they experience challenges including shortage or no availability of sunscreen lotion and poor cancer screening in most public health facilities, inadequacies and in inclusive education provision, unemployment, myths about albinism, little research about access to justice and security which promote their vulnerability.