Thematic Entry Points
Access to Justice
Attacks against persons with albinism are seldom investigated and alleged perpetrators often evade justice. The low response to attacks and significant impunity serves as hindrances to the reporting and visibility of attacks. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, legal responses to the killings and mutilation of persons with albinism has been slow or, in some cases, non-existent. Civil society organizations have raised concerns regarding the number of cases not prosecuted or dismissed in court, due to lack of evidence as a result of security forces’ failure to carry out proper investigations.
The barriers to guaranteeing the right of access to justice for persons with albinism who have been victims of human rights violations include:
- The lack of political will to enforce existing legislation, as well as a lack of resources for police forces to deal with cases, including tools for forensic and DNA analysis, especially in rural areas.
- Masterminds of these crimes – deemed to be powerful or influential elites – are rarely prosecuted while the relatively few prosecutions that occur tend to focus only on low-level criminals.
- Prejudice among law enforcement personnel: Police officers, prosecutors and judges hold the same discriminatory attitudes against persons with albinism and fail to properly investigate, prosecute or convict. According to reports, on occasions, prosecutors and judges do not consider the discrimination against the victim as an aggravating factor in the attack, and court sentences handed down to convicted criminals do not reflect the gravity of crimes against persons with albinism.
- Lack of knowledge on rights and avenues for redress: In some cases, victims, relatives and members of the community are reportedly unaware of how to file a complaint with the relevant authorities. Often, they fail to come forward for fear of reprisals.
- Absence of protection measures: The need to strengthen protection measures has been stressed repeatedly. Although there have been efforts by some states to protect victims, in some cases, these have been inadequate or have further violated the rights of the victims. For instance, following a series of attacks against persons with albinism in the Lake Zone region in Tanzania, the authorities placed children with albinism in ‘safe’ houses, often referred to as temporary holding shelters. Concerns have been raised that the shelters are unhygienic, overcrowded and have limited human and financial resources, and that children with albinism have been subjected to threats, as well as to physical and sexual assault.
- Train law enforcement and the judiciary on the rights of persons with albinism, including national, regional and international standards – on both physical attacks
- Incorporate modules on albinism in ongoing access to justice programs
- Provide pro-bono legal assistance to victims whose cases have not been prosecuted or who have received insufficient redress and remedy in national, regional and international forums
- Provide legal counsel at no cost to survivors and witnesses of attacks who wish to provide testimony in a case or have their cases prosecuted
- Provide pro-bono legal assistance in bringing test cases at national, regional and international forums
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