Killers of persons with albnism in Malawi are from now being charged with genocide in addition to the murder charge.
This is a new approach taken by the government to eliminate the barbaric act which is leaving most of the victims in hiding , according to government legal resentatives.
The Southern African nation with a population of nearly 10 000 persons with albinism has seen an upsurge of ritual killings of the victims from 2014, a belief mostly being spread by witch doctors who claim that body parts of persons with Albinism have magical powers to bring luck in business, politics and other areas.
Firstly to be charged with the new offence are seven suspected killers of a 54 year old Yasin Phiri, who was brutally murdered in presence of his 9 year old son George,on the eve of new year, 31 December 2019.
The murderers invaded the victim’s house at night and broke into his bedroom through a window. They pounced on him , chopping off his both hands and legs before removing his intestines on the watch of his son.
A trumatised George was heavily beaten up when he querred the killers why they were slaughtering his father like chicken.
Chimwemwe Chithope Mwale , Lead Counsel for the state in the matter involving the seven suspects said the genocide charge comes in because the killers are attempting to extinct a population of persons with albnism.
“The state is of the view that the acts of killing persons with albnism are intended to wipe out of the race of the particular kind of people in this case the people with albinism,” he said.
He defended the new offence that it is in line with section 103 of the laws of Malawi.
“Indeed this is the first time we are charging the accused persons with genocide but this is an offence which is provided for by the laws of Malawi , and this is the new approach we are taking to eliminate such crimes,” he explained.
Dorothy De Gabriel , the High Court Judge handling the case immediately included the charge of which all the suspects pleaded not guilty.
Since 2014, the number of reported crimes against people with albnism in Malawi has risen close to 160 cases , including 15 murders and seven attempted murders, according to police figures .
Amnesty International, however, puts the death toll at 21.
The killings appear to be rising during elections, with most people linking it to politicians contesting in the elections.
Some suspects have even implicated government Senior officials in the crime but the implicated politicians have denied thier involvement . They are accusing the opposition political parties of funding the suspects to implicate them.
But the Amnesty International attributes impunity and delay in dealing with criminal cases involving persons with albnism as major factors fuelling the attacks against the victims in Malawi.
“The Malawi authorities must urgently overhaul the criminal justice system to protect people with albnism, who face the persistent threat if being killed for their body parts in a country where the vast majority of these horrific crimes remain unresolved and unpunished,” said Deprose Muchema, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
She expressed that “people with albnism deserve to see justice for these vile, hateful crimes against them . That it takes so long for cases to be investigated or heard in court, a sobering indictment of the systematic failures in Malawi’s criminal justice system.”