Over the last two months, Tanzania has witnessed two abductions of young children in the Lake Zone. In December, the abduction of a child with albinism, Pendo, left the country in shock. Despite the government’s efforts, Pendo has not been found. Now we have just witnessed the abduction and murder of a one year old, Yohana Bahati, which happened in Chato District in Geita Region on February 15.
The UN is deeply concerned by the abductions and brutal attacks on these two young children. These attacks, which are often motivated by the use of body parts for ritual purposes, have claimed the lives of at least 74people with albinism in Tanzania since 2000. These attacks are accompanied by a high degree of impunity, and while Tanzania has made efforts to combat the problem, much more must be done to put an end to these heinous crimes and to protect this vulnerable segment of the population.
No violence against people with albinism is justifiable. All violence can be prevented. Attacks against people with albinism can never be justified – not by culture, tradition or religion.
This is a year of elections in Tanzania and, as some analysts have suggested, it could be a dangerous year for people living with albinism. We commend the government for its efforts and the support it has provided the regions impacted by these abductions and we encourage national and regional authorities to enhance their efforts to ensure the protection of human rights and full adherence to the rule of law. We wish for 2015 to be a year where all Tanzanians see their rights respect, including those with albinism.
I have been in contact with the Regional Commissioner in Geita, Ms. Fatma Mwassa, who is very concerned with this recent abduction and has assured me that her administration is fully committed to addressing this abduction despite the many challenges involved.
Today I have also met with the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS) and they indicated that their main concern this year is to end violence against people with albinism (PWA). They are calling for more protection of PWAs especially this year when elections will be held in Tanzania and neighbouring countries. Under The Same Sun (UTSS) National Coordinator, Ms. Vicky Ntetema, also discussed with me her concerns and fears for 2015. People with Albinism deserve the same rights as all Tanzanian citizens.
2015 is a year in which Tanzanias will elect new leaders and vote on a proposed new Constitution; it is also a year where all the citizens of the country should feel respected and that their human rights are protected.