Saturday March 23, 2019

People with Albinism Face Great Difficulties in Seeking Justice

Ero says persons with Albinism suffer from discrimination, stigma and social exclusion

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FILE - People with albinism pose with campaigners for their rights in the capital of Lilongwe, Malawi, in early 2016 before the start of street protests against attacks. VOA

The Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism reports people with this condition have great difficulty getting justice or recompense for physical attacks and other harmful practices against them and their families. The expert’s latest report has been under debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Last year has been a particularly difficult one for persons with albinism in southern Africa. UN expert, Ikponwosa Ero says she has received numerous reports of abhorrent attacks against them.

From past experience, she says it is likely the number of reported cases does not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. Over the past decade, she says there have been more than 700 cases of attacks in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She notes these are reported cases. Most, she says, are never brought to light.

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FILE – The U.N.’s independent expert on human rights and albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, addresses a news conference at the end of her official visit to Malawi on April 29, 2016. VOA

Worldwide, Ero says persons with Albinism suffer from discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. She says they are subject to physical attacks and harmful practices related to certain beliefs in magic and witchcraft. However, when they seek redress, she says persons with albinism too frequently are denied access to justice.

“Overall, in terms of these criminal cases, inordinate delays are common in prosecuting cases of serious charges such as murder and mutilation. Cases with relatively lesser charges such as threats and possession of exhumed body parts from gravesites are — depending on the country in question — either prosecuted relatively quickly or are not taken seriously at all.”

Ero says there are many barriers to access to justice, including lack of knowledge by victims on how the justice system works. She says discrimination from members of the legal community and the inability to pay the costs associated with going to court are other impediments.

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The independent expert says specific measures must be taken to improve access to justice for persons with albinism. She recommends victims and their relatives be given protection to encourage them to come forward with evidence of a crime. She says they also should be rehabilitated.

Ero says persons with albinism who are seeking justice should receive legal aid and laws should be amended to take into account the threats targeting this particular group. (VOA)

Next Story

Wrongly Accused Black Men, Get a Pardon After 70 Years

Independent investigators have proved the men who were convicted without any evidence, during the notorious Jim Crow-era in the U.S., were innocent of the charge. 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a Cabinet granted posthumous pardons Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, to Shepherd, Irvin, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas, the four African-American men accused of raping a white woman in 1949 in a case now seen as a racial injustice. VOA

Four black men who were wrongly accused of raping a 17-year-old white girl in the southern U.S. state of Florida 70 years ago, received pardons Friday.

Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas became known as the Groveland Four.

All of them are dead.

Members of their families, however, are still alive.

The families attended the clemency hearing in Tallahassee Friday where officials voted unanimously to pardon the four men.

“It is never too late to do the right thing,” Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried.”

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The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen beyond a chain fence during the partial government shutdown in Washington, Jan. 8, 2019. VOA

Thomas was killed by a mob shortly after the incident in 1949.

The other three were tortured into confessions and convicted by all-white juries.

Shepherd was shot and killed by a sheriff who was transporting him to a re-trial.

Greenlee and Irvin received life sentences.

Norma Padgett, the alleged rape victim, is still alive. She also attended the hearing Friday.

“I am not no liar,” she told the hearing.

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Independent investigators have proved the men who were convicted without any evidence, during the notorious Jim Crow-era in the U.S., were innocent of the charge.

Devil In The Grove, a book about the Groveland Four case, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013. (VOA