Police are currently handling 136 out of 195 cases related to attacks on persons with albinism recorded since 2014.
National Police deputy spokesperson Peter Kalaya said in an interview that according to their statistics, the cases include attacks, killings, abductions, intimidation, tampering with graveyards and general security of persons with albinism.
The Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have since expressed worry with the progress of the cases.
According to Kalaya, 58 out of the 136 cases are at hearing stage in various courts nationwide; five were concluded and are awaiting judgements while 73 are under investigation.
Among those being investigated, he said is the abduction of a 20-month-old baby last Friday at Tulusida Village in Traditional Authority Ngabu in Chikwawa District.
According to police, the baby was abducted while sleeping with her mother in their house.
Two people have since been arrested in connection with the abduction but the baby is yet to be found and for fear of jeorpadising investigations, police have withheld the suspects’ names.
Kalaya said: “Out of the 195 recorded cases, 59 were completed in various courts of law. Convictions were secured in 57 of these 59 cases with the remaining two being acquittals.”
Reacting to the statistics, Apam president Ian Simbota, in a telephone interview, said it is worrisome that since 2014, many cases continue to drag.
He said: “From Apam’s point of view, it seems we are still struggling and staggering to achieve justice because even if we have such many cases under investigations, till when?”
Simbota said while authorities pledge to be vigilant in addressing such issues, persons with albinism continue to live in fear.
On his part, CHRR executive director Michael Kaiyatsa described the statistics as depressing.
He said: “What it means is that only 30 percent of the recorded cases have been concluded, which is worrisome. It shows that, despite promises by government authorities that cases would be expedited, victims of attacks and their families are still having to wait for a very long time to get justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Kaiyatsa said the development also means suspects are also being detained for long without trial, which is a human rights violation.
In a written response, Cedep executive director Gift Trapence said it is disturbing that attacks and abductions of persons with albinism have resurfaced.
“There is need to invest more in speeding up of investigations,” he said, suggesting special courts to speed up conclusion of trials of all cases related to abductions and killings of persons with albinism.
On Wednesday, Apam acting national coordinator Menard Zakaliya expressed concern that the K3.15 billion National Action Plan (NAP) on Persons with Albinism has not effectively addressed attacks on people with albinism in the country. The four-year NAP (2018-2022) was put in place to address attacks and abductions of persons with albinism to ensure they enjoy their rights.
According to the 2018 Malawi Population and Housing Census, there are 134 636 persons with albinism in Malawi.