People with albinism face particularly difficult stigma in Tanzania, as local beliefs have cemented the perception that they are unnatural or cursed individuals. They are rejected by their families, avoided by their peers, and discriminated against, from school yards to court rooms. In many cases, people with albinism have suffered violent mutilations at the hands of traditional leaders who lead people to believe this puts an end to their “magical properties.” Although the Tanzanian government has taken action to put an end to such violence, ritual killings continue, highlighting that more robust measures need to be taken in terms of protecting the victims and persecuting the perpetrators.
Franciscans International (FI) and partners Edmund Rice International and the Marist International Solidarity Foundation, used the process of Tanzania’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on May 9, 2016 to document and share the alarming information about the plight of people with albinism, and propose recommendations to the government, in a joint submission. The submission also addresses continuing difficulties for marginalised populations to access quality education, high infant and maternal mortality rates, and concerning issues around child labour and the sexual abuse of children. FI has been working with partners in Tanzania since the country’s first UPR in 2012, monitoring the implementation of the recommendations accepted by the Government, and preparing for the second UPR by lobbying member states and gathering information for the submission. In July 2015, FI and partners organised a national consultation in Arusha, to share information and organise for the UPR.
Several official recommendations were made to the Tanzanian delegation at the UPR session, around education, health, and child labour, reflecting FI and partners’ concerns. A remarkable 27 recommendations were made around the issue of albinism and harmful practices, indicating global concern over the plight of this population in Tanzania. FI and its partners in the country will continue monitoring how the Government implements these recommendations, and will be working with local human rights defenders to keep the government accountable to its commitments.