Presidential adviser on local policies Hetherwick Ntaba is lobbying for the application of a death sentence to people convicted of murdering persons with albinism, saying this will deter others from abusing people with albinism.
Ntaba, who is also chairperson of a committee tasked to fight against abuse of persons with albinism, was speaking at a press briefing in Lilongwe to report on progress of the committee.
He said their appeal for the death sentence follows a fact-finding mission which showed that a good number of people are for the sentence as a deterrent measure to would-be offenders.
Despite the law providing for a death sentence, it has not been applicable because of human rights concerns with the United Nations campaigning for removal of such laws from the books.
But Ntaba said the committee is aware of such campaign and arguments, adding that there is need for Malawi to consider the local context.
“I was part of the team which conducted public inquiry on the issue of death sentence as part of consultations for the 1994 Constitution—Malawians overwhelmingly supported the inclusion of death penalty in our laws and I do not think that perception has changed,” he said.
Ntaba said the heinous crimes perpetrated against people with albinism can only come to an end with a stiffer punishment. He said the committee has managed to influence change of the law—amendment of the Anatomy Act to provide for stiff penalties to people who abuse persons with disabilities.
According to Ntaba, the committee has not been able to attract funding from the UN family because Malawi is yet to drop the death sentence from its laws.
“We know what it means—it means that we may not have funding because we are asking for death penalty but maybe we need to do what we feel is right. If only you see a picture of the gruesome murder people of albinism have faced, you would agree with us that death penalty should be applicable,” he said.