FAQs

Explanatory notes and caveats

SourceThe source of records of attacks are varied. Some are from government and others from non-governmental organizations. Finally some have been obtained from the UN independent expert during her country visits to the region.
GovernmentGovernment information on attacks have mostly been reported via data provided to the UN independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. In other instances, cases have been confirmed indirectly by government agents, particularly law enforcement agencies who pronounce the launch of investigation or acknowledge the veracity of the report to the news media.
NGOsSeveral NGOs across Africa have reported cases. The majority of cases reported on this site are from NGOs working particularly on the issue of persons with albinism across Africa. The vast majority have reported cases through their partner organization, Under The Same Sun (UTSS).
MediaSome cases have been sourced from the news media, particularly when names and locations have been included along with other elements that permit tracing.
CaveatsImportant issues to take note of:
Work in ProgressIt is highly challenging to gather data on these attacks in the Africa region. This is particularly the case where monitoring bodies have little capacity as it is the case with some organizations serving persons with albinism. Moreover, sometimes even government data are not properly disaggregated to enable deep analysis. Overall, more work is needed for proper documentation of these cases and also in monitoring and reporting. As we receive more helpful information from reasonably credible and reliable sources, data will be updated, revised and refined. To assist with this work, click on Get Involved.
CredibilityOver 300 cases of attacks and violations have been confirmed through government. All others have been confirmed mostly by NGOs - in particular organizations serving persons with albinism and media.
ReliabilityThe data reported herein have been collated on the basis of the simple question: is it reasonable to rely on this information and its source? A majority of cases seem to be reasonably reliable. There a few instances were more information is needed as reported information seems incomplete. However, if the source of such information is credible and reliable, such information has been included to provide indicative and not precise information.
VerifiedAll the cases reported are not verified in terms of comprehensive tracing and cross-check. Only one country is known to have attempted cross-checking and that is Tanzania. In the result, government and NGO differed in their findings. While government reports only 50+ cases. NGOs report well over 100. For more information on the challenges in data collection on these cases, see comments under "Reliability" and "Work in Progress."
Reported cases aloneThese cases are reported cases alone. It is often believed that far more atrocities have occurred than reported for several reasons including the challenges of data collection, weak monitoring capacity by civil society, the secrecy that often surround witchcraft-related harmful practices and the reported involvement of family members. See other factors at considerations for Interpretation below.
Errors of data entryWhile we have the names of a majority of the victims in these cases, some are remain unknown. Further, it is possible that slight discrepancies in reporting e.g. variation in the name of a victim or a location may have caused double entries. However, these are rarer than they are common. Finally, the category of "survivor" which is ordinarily set aside for survivors of attempted murders and maiming may have also captured victims of abductions and rape. This too would be rarer than it is common.
Not UNCases on this site are NOT verified by the UN. Note however that the UN Independent Expert on albinism - who works in her personal capacity - has confirmed in her reports that she received confirmation from government officials regarding a total of over 300 cases from three country visits conducted between 2016 and 2017. These were country visits to Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania
CategoriesCategories of attacks are loosely based on categories used in criminal law as well as dictionary definitions
AttacksExtreme forms of discrimination including aggression with an intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
MurderThe unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
Grave robberyAct of taking property - particularly the remains of a person with albinism unlawfully from a place or gravesite by force or threat of force.
SurvivorSomeone who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died. In particular surviving murder, attempted murder and maiming.
RapeAn act of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will.
AbductionAct of forcibly taking someone away against their will and may include trafficking in person. Unfortunately it does not include trafficking in body parts as there are no systematic monitoring and recording efforts in this area concerning persons with albinism.
MissingA person not able to be found to date because the person is not in their expected place.
ReportedSpoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated.
Considerations for Interpretation
OverallIn light of caveats and definition, these records are not perfect. That said, they show confirmed cases as well as others that are reliable to various degrees. Overall, cases are indicative of extreme violations of human rights as well as underlying problems in the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism in the region.
Press FreedomsThe extent to which cases are reported may be impacted by press freedoms. For example during the peak of attacks in Tanzania, the country seemed to enjoy a relatively high press freedom. There is a possible correlation between press freedoms and the extent to which cases are reported.
SecrecyThe types of attacks faced by persons with albinism are strongly linked to harmful practices emanating from witchcraft and other worldviews that operate in secret. This makes it incredibly challenging to follow up with details in certain cases.
Family involvementThe involvement of family members in these cases is not unusual and several cases have confirmed this pattern. This is an additional challenge in the gathering of data and investigation on the lives of persons with albinism.
PopulationPersons with albinism are a relatively small group and often range from a few thousands to tens of thousands in a country. . An attack on one often strikes fear in all persons with albinism who are visible and whose homes and whereabouts are often well known.
Contestations
Note re TanzaniaTotal cases reported by civil society is well over 100. Government disputes this number and reports 55 confirmed cases.