Malawi: Discovery of head of boy with albinism exposes protection failures

Press Release
March 3, 2016

Malawi: Discovery of head of boy with albinism exposes protection failures

Spokespeople available

The sickening discovery of the severed head of a nine-year-old boy with albinism in Malawi shows the grave risk to life and personal security faced by people with albinism and the urgent need for the authorities to provide adequate protection to this vulnerable minority group, said Amnesty International today.

Police confirmed to Amnesty International today that they found the head of the boy who was abducted from his home at Moto village in Malawi's eastern district of Machinga on Friday 26 February.

“The discovery of the head of a nine-year-old boy with albinism who was abducted in front of his mother, shows the grave danger faced by people with albinism in Malawi. The Police must urgently and thoroughly investigate the matter and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for this heinous crime,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

“The government must immediately take steps to ensure the safety and security of people with albinism and their families, especially in border districts, and provide much needed protection for this vulnerable group who are increasingly being targeted for their body parts. These ritual killings must stop.”

Two people with albinism have been killed since January this year, with at least 11 known to have been victims of ritual killings since December 2014. Five others are still missing.

The lack of adequate police protection has also led to vigilante murders. On Tuesday, a mob burnt to death seven men allegedly found with bones of a person with albinism in Southern Malawi's border district of Nsanje.

“Vigilante violence targeting suspects of any crime is unacceptable. The government should encourage the public to report anyone they suspect of involvement in criminal acts to the police who should investigate the crime. Justice cannot be achieved by people taking the law into their own hands,” said Deprose Muchena.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Robert Shivambu, Media Manager – Amnesty International - Southern Africa on +2711 283 6000 or +27 83 437 5732 or