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Game Changer: International action taken to end albinism attacks - Regional Action Plan in Africa endorsed - UN rights expert

International Albinism Awareness Day – Tuesday 13 June

Geneva (12 June 2017) – The violence and discrimination being suffered by people with albinism cannot be conquered unless States work together to tackle the problem, a UN human rights expert has warned in a public statement ahead of International Albinism Awareness Day on 13 June.

The Expert applauded the endorsement by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights of the Regional Action Plan to end attacks on persons with albinism in Africa, and called for all concerned States to take 15 practical steps set out in this first-ever regional action plan.

“International cooperation will be a turning point in the long battle to end discrimination for people with albinism, some of whom continue to be murdered for their body parts,” said the UN Independent Expert on human rights of persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero. “We cannot underestimate the importance of joint action.”

“The plan sets out clearly what States can do - for example educating the public, collecting data and researching the root causes of the violence,” said Ms. Ero.

“It also equips them to fight impunity, ensure support for victims and use legal and policy frameworks to deter witchcraft and trafficking in body parts.”

This new move to take joint action gave grounds for optimism, the UN expert said.

“We cannot rest until we have seen change in people’s lives and tackled the root causes of the current situation,” she added.

“People, especially women and children, continue to suffer violence, discrimination, stigma and social exclusion.  Many are marginalized in their communities and experience social exclusion caused by misunderstanding, deeply entrenched prejudices and stereotyping.”

People with albinism also face significant barriers restricting their equal participation in society, impacting their rights to enjoy physical and mental health and their ability to access adequate health care, education, social services, legal protection, and redress for abuses, she stressed.

“It is essential for us to be bold and untiring in our determination to see all people with albinism enjoy their full human rights,” said Ms. Ero.  “We advance together, with renewed hope inspired by the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ which is at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Her full statement has been endorsed by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the Special Rapporteur on physical and mental health, Mr. Dainius Pûras, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities, Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Ms. Agnes Callamard.

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Ms. Ikponwosa Ero (Nigeria) was designated in June 2015 as the first 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.

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

For inquiries and media requests, please contact please contact Arnaud Chaltin (+41 22 917 9188 / achaltin@ohchr.org) or write to albinism@ohchr.org

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