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Human rights defenders on albinism need much more support: UN expert

09 March 2023

GENEVA (9 March 2023) – Human rights defenders are instrumental in raising awareness and advocating for the rights of persons with albinism, but lack of support and visibility continue to severely limit the impact of their work, a UN expert said today.

In a report to the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights of persons with albinism, Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond, observed that human rights defenders, including those with albinism, have been targeted, making it difficult for them to work in a safe space.
“I have received reports of attacks, threats and harassment against human rights defenders working on albinism and many are unsure where to seek help or support,” Miti-Drummond said.

Despite the recognition of persons with albinism as persons with disabilities and the growing number of defenders working on albinism issues, they have remained relatively invisible in human rights discourse and initiatives affecting them. "There is still a widespread lack of understanding and ignorance about albinism and dangerous misconceptions about the condition, which makes the work of human rights defenders extremely critical," the UN expert said.

"Human rights work on albinism is severely underfunded and under-resourced," she said. Yet it has the potential to make a significant impact, she explained, including through the adoption of measures such as national action plans, increased protection through legislation and law enforcement, or simply by providing access to life-saving resources such as sunscreen.

Miti-Drummond's report provided several positive examples that could help to empower and strengthen the work of human rights defenders in the field of albinism, as violations, including attacks and killings, continue. Increased support for human rights defenders would enable States and other stakeholders to effectively eliminate harmful practices against persons with albinism, most of which are rooted in false beliefs and myths that fuel discrimination.

"It cannot be said often enough. The work of human rights defenders on albinism is literally saving lives," the expert said. "Much more needs to be done to support them."

ENDS

Ms. Muluka-Anne Miti-Drummond (Zambia) started her mandate as Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with Albinism on 1 August 2021. She has worked in the area of human rights for almost 20 years, most recently as a senior international human rights consultant, including on the area of human rights and albinism.

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.

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