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Madagascar: UN experts urge protection for people with albinism amid attacks

28 February 2022

GENEVA (28 February 2022) - UN human rights experts* today urged Madagascar to take immediate action to protect people with albinism amid reports of ongoing attacks and killings in the country.

“People with albinism are living in fear and will continue to be at risk of being attacked if urgent actions are not taken,” the experts said. “The most recent attack was reported just some days ago and tragically, the majority of victims have been children.”

Over a dozen abductions, attacks and killings in the past two years were reported in various parts of Madagascar including Atsimo-Andrefana, Menabe, Haute Matisatra, Ihorombe and Anosi. The actual number of attacks is likely higher and expected to increase.

The gruesome attacks and killings have involved mutilation and dismemberment based on dangerously false beliefs that these body parts can be used in rituals to bring good fortune and protection. There are also concerns that dismembered body parts are being trafficked across borders throughout the region where the disturbing trade reportedly serves a wealthy and influential clientele.

“We understand the country is currently experiencing immense challenges in the aftermath of cyclones Ana and Batsirai, the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic effects of drought in the south,” the experts said. “But this is precisely why urgent protection is needed for people with albinism. These attacks are fuelled by mythical beliefs that the rituals can bring better fortune. The dire economic situation in the country could provide fertile ground for increased human rights violations against people with albinism.

“We urgently call on the Government to strengthen their efforts to protect people with albinism, particularly women, children and older people who have been victims of these atrocious crimes. Humanitarian efforts must also consider the specific needs of people with albinism who are disproportionately affected by the situation in the country,” the experts said.

The experts also underscored the need to prioritise programmes to educate and raise awareness on the plight of people with albinism to counter the horrendous myths that have led to their killings.

“We stand ready to engage and provide assistance in line with our mandates to the Government and their partners in this endeavour,” the experts said.


The experts are in contact with the Malagasy authorities on this matter.


* The experts: Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond is the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinismMr. Gerard QuinnSpecial Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilitiesMr. Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what are known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name for the Council's independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with 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 of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

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