LHRC  and THRDC  condemn brutal murder of child with albinism in Tanzania, urge immediate action.

LHRC and THRDC condemn brutal murder of child with albinism in Tanzania, urge immediate action.

Posted 3 weeks ago

The Legal and Human Rights Centre ((LHRC) and the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) have issued a strong condemnation following the abduction and brutal murder of Asimwe Novath, a two-and-a-half-year-old child with albinism. Asimwe was a resident of Mbale sub-village, Bulamula village, Kamachumu ward, and Muleba district in the Kagera region.

On May 30, 2024, reports emerged that Asimwe had been abducted by unknown individuals from Bulamula village. The child's mother, Kebyera Richard, was attacked and strangled by these individuals, who then fled with the child to an unknown location. Tragically, eighteen days later, on June 17, 2024, Asimwe's mutilated body was discovered. Limbs, tongue, and eyes had been removed, and the body was found abandoned in a water culvert on Makongora road, Malele village, according to a statement by the Muleba District Administrative Secretary, Mr. Benjamini Mwakasyege.

This horrific act of cruelty against people with albinism tarnishes Tanzania's image and demonstrates a significant lack of security for its citizens, particularly those with albinism. The murder of Asimwe Novath is a cruel act that undermines human dignity and recalls past brutalities against people with albinism. This incident is reminiscent of the attack on Kazungu Julius, a ten-year-old child with albinism from Katoro, Geita region, who was assaulted and severely injured by unidentified individuals with machetes.

There has been a noticeable resurgence in attacks against people with albinism during this election period, particularly targeting children. In 2015, in the Rukwa region, a six-year-old boy named Baraka Cosmas was attacked while sleeping with his mother. Unknown assailants invaded their home and chopped off his hand.

This incident is a clear violation of Article 14 of the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, which protects the right to life. It also violates the 2006 International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and various international human rights treaties, as well as national laws including the Penal Code, Chapter 16 (2019 Revised Edition). The THRDC and LHRC strongly condemn these brutal, inhumane, and barbaric acts against fellow citizens with albinism.

The organizations express their disappointment with the response from the authorities, criticizing the lack of public information regarding efforts made immediately after the child's disappearance and the subsequent search for the perpetrators. This lack of transparency has increased fear within the albinism community about their safety in a country known for peace and human rights protection.

The brutal incident against this child with albinism serves as a stark reminder to the government and all relevant authorities of the urgent need for collective efforts to combat abuse and brutality against people with albinism in our communities. On June 18, 2024, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Samia Suluhu Hassan, expressed her sorrow and distress over the murder of Asimwe Novath at the Media Sector Development Conference.

The THRDC and LHRC would like to remind the government that earlier this year, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) expressed its disappointment with Tanzania for not following up on three applications submitted to the Committee regarding the mutilation of people with albinism. The CRPD criticized Tanzania's lack of accountability and failure to investigate these attacks, which could constitute a significant violation of its duty to protect people with disabilities.

In response to this tragedy, the THRDC and LHRC make the following calls to action:

  1. The police force should conduct a thorough investigation into this incident and ensure that all those involved, including those who coordinated, executed, and utilized the body parts, are brought to justice promptly.
  2. The Office of the Prime Minister (LabourYouthEmployment, and Persons with Disabilities) should establish robust strategies to identify and oversee the welfare of all people with albinism across the country.
  3. The Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania should use this budget session to discuss and allocate special funds to strengthen protection systems for people with albinism at all levels, from sub-village to national, to ensure their safety and well-being.
  4. The community should report all individuals involved in these acts so that security agencies can take appropriate investigative measures.
  5. The community should abandon superstitious beliefs about the use of body parts of people with albinism for wealth or power acquisition. Community members are urged to stand together in identifying and reporting those who commit brutal acts against people with albinism due to superstitious beliefs.