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Albinism in Africa

Independent Expert on albinism

Persons with albinism face multiple human rights challenges including experiences of stigmatization and discrimination and harmful practices related to witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks. Since 2006, the Independent Expert received information on close to 800 cases reported across 28 countries, mainly in the Africa region. These are just the reported cases, and civil society organizations believe the number is higher but remain unreported as in a number of cases family members are the perpetrators. In an effort to address these human rights violations, the Independent Expert collaborated with the African Union mechanisms including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and other international development partners, to develop the Regional Action Plan for 2017 to 2021. The RAP consisted of recommendations made by various human rights bodies and mechanisms in the UN and AU levels which provided specific and concrete measures to promote and protect the rights of persons with albinism and create conditions for their realization. 

In 2019, the Executive Council of the African Union went further and adopted the RAP as a continent-wide policy known as the Plan of Action to End Attacks and Other Human Rights Violations Targeting Persons with Albinism in Africa (2021-2031) and its Implementation Matrix. The new Plan of Action is incorporated into the larger disability architecture of the African Union thereby giving further legitimacy to the need to implement its measures. The Independent Expert also worked with colleagues from the African Union’s Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development as well as civil society organizations from the Africa region to provide the Implementation Matrix to assist State Parties to implement the recommendations within the Plan of Action.  

Women and albinism in Africa

Women and girls with albinism and mothers who give birth to children with albinism are exposed to extreme forms of violence, such as the hacking of their limbs while alive. This violence is the result of erroneous beliefs, for example that sexual intercourse with a woman with albinism can cure HIV/AIDs. Women are often blamed after giving birth to a child with albinism and are accused of being unfaithful or of bringing a curse to the family. As a result, they are rejected by their husbands and abandoned by their communities. They are confined to poverty and further exposed to attacks and other forms of violence and discrimination. 

Read the Women’s Rights in Africa paper for more information on women and albinism in Africa.

Regional Action Plan on albinism in Africa

Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa (2017–2021): English

Regional Action Plan on albinism: Arabic | English | French | Portuguese

Consultative Forum – Action on albinism in Africa 
17 to 19 June 2016 - Dar es Salaam (United Republic of Tanzania) 

The objective of this three-day Forum was to identify specific, concrete and achievable short, medium and long term measures to implement recommendations to address attacks against persons with albinism adopted by various bodies. 

Such recommendations include those from OHCHR (A/HRC/24/57), the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/28/75), the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (Expert Meeting in 2014, unpublished), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Resolution 263), the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/RES/23/13), Human Rights Treaty Bodies (Including CERD, CEDAW, CRC, CRPD, CESR, HRC, CAT, CRPD), and the universal Periodical Review Mechanism.

The measures in the outcome document below were identified by the over 150 participants from 26 countries in the region representing the civil society, governments, national human rights institutions, regional and international governmental organisations and the academic sector. Discussions and development of specific measures took place in 6 working groups before being presented to and adopted by the plenary.

In addition, participants also expressed their commitment to the implementation of these measures. 

The Forum was hosted by the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, the Government of Tanzania: Prime Minister`s Office, the UN Country Team in Tanzania, the Tanzania Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), the World Bank, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Standing Voice, Under The Same Sun, the Embassies of Norway, Ireland and the USA in Tanzania, and the Canadian High Commission in Tanzania.

Outcome Document: English | French

High Level Meeting
8 November 2016 – Pretoria (South Africa)

The Independent Expert, with the support of the Open Society Foundation, convened a high-level meeting in Pretoria to consult with representatives from the United Nations, the African Union, Governments and civil society organizations on the draft action plan discussed in June in Dar es Salaam.
This meeting was organised in the margin of the Conference "Advancing the rights of persons with albinism in Africa" held at the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria.

Consultative Working Group Meeting
14-15 November 2016 – Nairobi (Kenya)

The “think tank” elected during the plenary of the Consultative Forum in June 2016 met in Kenya in order to pursue its deliberations on the elaboration of a plan of action to address attacks against persons with albinism. 

The think tank, along with selected experts, convened with the support of the Open Society Initiatives of South African and of East Africa, to refine the measures identified in the action plan and to build them into an effective road map containing concrete and achievable time-bound measures designed for the African context.

Read the outcome document for more information.