The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Roman Catholic Church in Malawi has expressed concern over delayed dispensation of justice in cases bordering on abduction, attacks and killings of persons with albinism (PWAs) in Malawi.
CCJP National Governance Programmes Coordinator, George Chiusiwa, said the delay in disposing off the cases is frustrating national efforts to decisively end violation of rights for the PWA community.
Chiusiwa made the sentiments in Lilongwe on Friday when he opened a half-day media advocacy engagement on effective reporting and monitoring of rights of persons with albinism.
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) and European Union (EU) financed the media advocacy engagement through the project titled: Promoting and Protecting the Rights to Healthcare and Access to Justice for Persons with Albinism.
The project is being implemented in Machinga and Zomba districts and is designed to safeguard rights to access to justice and health care for persons with albinism in Malawi.
It also aims at reducing sociocultural stigma and discrimination and increase social integration of PWAs within their families and communities.
Chiusiwa said in 2016, the court issued a Practice Direction under Section 364A of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code and Sections 59 and 67 of the Courts Act to the effect that only Chief Resident Magistrates, Principal Resident Magistrates and Senior Resident Magistrates and judges can disposes cases of violations of rights of person with albinism.
This was done with the hope of achieving speedy disposal of cases, consistency and enhanced and stiffer penalties.
“However, there are still delays to conclude the cases,” observed Chiusiwa, adding that Malawi has over 195 registered cases of attacks, abductions and killings of PWAs.
He said the media advocacy engagement was therefore organized to bring to light hidden realities, experiences and issues underlying the enjoyment of the rights to access to justice and healthcare for PWAs in Malawi’s media.
Chiusiwa added that the engagement was aimed at raising awareness and policy attention among duty-bearers and the wider public on the neglected issues that affect access to justice and health care for persons with albinism.
“We want to soundly inform policy positions on the rights situation of persons with albinism in various spheres of life; to inform media briefs and analyses on the rights of persons with albinism in Malawi and to gauge and evaluate the quiet, neglected and unreported human rights violations, abuses and threats suffered by persons with albinism,” he explained.
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Chiusiwa disclosed that through the project, CCJP intends to increase access for PWAs and their families to appropriate healthcare and legal support in light of discrimination and rights violations.
The Commission also wants to ensure that existing legal and policy frameworks and service provision systems are responsive to the needs of PWAs and that such frameworks challenge and address direct and indirect discrimination against PWAs.
Times Group investigative journalist Rebecca Chimjeka commended CCJP for organizing the training, which she described as timely and eye opening to the journalists.
But Chimjeka asked the Commission to consider supporting the journalists with resources, especially those interested to investigate cases of attacks, abductions and killings of PWAs.