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UN rights expert in first official visit to Malawi to assess situation of people with albinism

GENEVA / LILONGWE (14 April 2016) – United Nations Independent Expert Ikponwosa Ero will carry out a monitoring visit to Malawi from 18 to 29 April 2016 to assess the human rights situation of people with albinism. Ms. Ero visit comes at a key time when attacks of persons with albinism and the sale of their body parts are frequently reported from the country.

This will be the first country visit ever by the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism since the Human Rights Council established the mandate in March 2015.

“I look forward to this first official mission to evaluate the situation of human rights of persons with albinism in Malawi, make concrete recommendations, and identify good practices to promote regionally,” said Ms. Ero, who visits the country at the invitation of the Government.

“Attacks of persons with albinism and the sale of their body parts will be one of the main focusses of my visit. Yet, I cannot separate these crimes from other relevant and contributing human rights issues faced by this group in the spheres of health, disability, education, harmful traditional practices, among others,” she stressed.

The Independent Expert is tasked to report on developments and obstacles to enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism; identify and promote good practices; and combat stereotypes, prejudices, harmful traditional practices and beliefs that hinder the enjoyment of their human rights.

During her two-week visit, the human rights expert will travel to Lilongwe, Machinga, Zomba, Phalombe and Kasungu. She will meet with representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, local and territorial authorities, the Malawi Human Rights Commission, civil society groups, including organisations of persons with albinism, and members of the diplomatic community.

“I also give particular importance to meeting with persons with albinism as well as families affected by violations of the human rights of persons with albinism,” Ms. Ero added.

At the end of her visit, on Friday 29 April 2016, the expert will share with the media her preliminary observations at a press conference which will be held at 10:30 am at the UNDP premises in Lilongwe, Plot 7/Area 40, Lilongwe. Access to the press conference will be limited to journalists. (Contact for press conference: Chikondi Lunduka: Office: 01 773 500. Mobile:  0999750573 / Chikondi.Lunduka@one.un.org)

The Independent Expert will present a comprehensive report on her visit to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.

Ms. Ikponwosa Ero (Nigeria) was designated in June 2015 as the first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism by the Human Rights Council. Inspired by her experiences as a person with albinism, Ms. Ero spent the last seven years working on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. As international advocacy and legal officer of Under The Same Sun, an NGO with a focus on albinism, she participated in multiple activities and panels at the UN in Geneva and New York. She has extensive experience in research, policy development and advocacy in the field of albinism. She is the author of numerous papers and articles on the issue, including with regards to the categorisation of persons with albinism in the international human rights system. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Albinism/Pages/IEAlbinism.aspx

Read the Independent Expert’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/63

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Check the special website: “People with albinism: not ghosts, but human beings - http://albinism.ohchr.org/

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Liliogwe (during the visit): Arnaud Chaltin (+41 791096872 / achaltin@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (during the visit): María Margarita Lema Tomé (+41 22 917 92 48 / mlematome@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Arnaud Chaltin (+41 22 917 9188 / achaltin@ohchr.org) or write to albinism@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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