Header image for news printout

“Less talk and more action on albinism in Africa” – UN expert launches first-ever regional forum on albinism

DAR ES SALAAM / GENEVA (15 June 2016) – The first-ever regional forum for Action on Albinism in Africa will take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 17-19 June. The event hosted by the United Nations Independent Expert on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero* will develop specific measures to tackle the attacks and discrimination faced by persons with albinism in several countries in the region.

Persons with albinism in the region of Sub Saharan Africa are facing some of the most extreme forms of human rights violations. They face physical attacks fuelled by erroneous beliefs that their body parts can be used in potions and in other witchcraft practices. A majority of victims are women and children. They also face entrenched discrimination and stigma extending to their family members particularly mothers of children with albinism.

Confronted by these challenges, many civil society organisations, persons with albinism, and states wish to design new ways of dealing with the issues while adopting those that have been tested and true.

“There are a lot of specific, practical, simple and effective measures that some countries have successfully used to tackle the issues faced by persons with albinism including having a dedicated office and budget on the issue, creating a telephone hotline to report crimes and threats, regulating ‘witchcraft’ and traditional medicine practitioners among others,” Ms. Ero said.

“But these ideas have to be shared as best practices and developed into a continental roadmap to successfully tackle the issue,” the human rights expert underscored.

This is why on the heels of international albinism awareness day which just concluded on June 13, over 150 people will gather this week in Dar es Salaam to lay down a roadmap of specific measures aimed at dealing with the human rights issues faced by persons with albinism.

The participants are from 28 countries in the region. Half of them from civil society, about 20 percent from government, 10 percent from national human rights institutions and there will also be human rights specialists from within and outside the AU and UN as well as academics.

“As the continent of Africa celebrates the decade of human rights, and the UN launches the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which pledges to leave no one behind, we have a good context in which to plant this forum,” Ms. Ero said.

“It is not going to be easy to come up with specific measures for all the issues arising out of the problems faced by persons with albinism, but the best practices of some States and civil society to date will represent a key step forward in promoting and protecting their human rights,” the expert concluded.

(*) Hosted by the UN Independent Expert on albinism, the Government of Tanzania: Prime Minister’s Office, the UN Country Team in Tanzania, the Tanzania Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance, the World Bank, Standing Voice, Under The Same Sun, the Embassies of Norway, Ireland and the USA in Tanzania, and the Canadian High Commission in Tanzania

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 Dar es Salaam (during the forum):  Arnaud Chaltin (+41 79 201 0119)
In Geneva (before and after the forum):  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)  

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:
Twitter: @UNHumanRights
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Instagram: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr