Catholic Bishops’ Commission in Malawi Decries Renewed Violence against Albinos, Elderly

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Officials of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Commission (CCJP) in Malawi have condemned the renewed violence against people living with albinism and elderly persons in the Southern African nation.

In their Wednesday, December 7 statement signed by CCJP Coordinators at the national and Diocesan levels in Malawi, officials of the entity of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) call on security personnel in the country to provide adequate security to vulnerable Malawians. 

“The human rights violations against persons with albinism in the country are a well-documented phenomenon since Malawi started officially recording cases of attacks, abductions, and killings of this vulnerable group around 2013/2014,” they say.

CCJP Coordinators in Malawi note that “of late there has been a resurgence of the attacks, abductions, and killings” and go on to highlight the November 30 murder of a three-year-old girl living with albinism in Kasungu, Central Malawi. 

Talandila Chirwa was reportedly killed by a man who broke into her grandmother’s house where she was sleeping. The assailant is said to have stabbed her in the neck before cutting off her arm.


“It is clear that the monster is back to haunt this vulnerable section of our society,” CCJP officials in Malawi bemoan, adding that the continuous occurrence of these human rights violations points to some deficiencies in the existing interventions. 

They say in reference to the challenge of human rights violations in Malawi, “This means that well-thought strategic interventions in spheres of security, protection, and access to justice ought to be properly and adequately devised and financed for lasting a solution to the problem.”

While expressing their appreciation for the adoption of the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism (2018-2022), CCJP officials in Malawi say they want “much more to be done to arrest the resurgence of the attacks, abductions, and killings of persons with albinism.”

They say that the implementation of the National Action Plan has been marred by challenges at various levels in addition to its financing since it was adopted by the Malawi Government in 2018. 

“Coordination and collaboration in the implementation of interventions under the National Action Plan are critically problematic at the community, district, and national levels. Funding for the National Action Plan is very low,” officials of the ECM Commission lament.  

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They note that allocated funds are yet to be devolved to the local councils, thus “adversely affecting the implementation of interventions by the local governments to fully protect and promote the rights of persons with albinism in Malawi.”

In their December 7 statement, CCJP officials in Malawi further say that security for persons with albinism, and their ability to access basic services remains “a huge challenge”. 

“Community protection through local security structures, like Community Policing Forums (CPFs), has also been a challenge due to poor resourcing and equipment,” they say.

They call on the Malawian government to ensure Local Councils are well-financed on the implementation of the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism to ensure effective local-level interventions to protect albinos in the country.

Malawi Police Service, CCJP officials in Malawi say, “should consider mounting regular community patrols in communities to safeguard the security of persons with albinism.”


In their statement, CCJP officials in the Southern African nation also decry the increase in cases of victimization of older women and men.

They say that elderly people, especially those who live in rural areas, continue to be victims of “witchcraft-based violence” and other human rights violations and abuses.

On December 5, two elderly women in Mzimna District were physically assaulted and forced to bury a dead woman. They were accused of bewitching and killing the deceased. 

Making reference to the incident, CCJP officials in Malawi say the harassment of the two women is one of the numerous cases of violation and abuse of old people in the country. 

They say that it is “worrisome” that the Malawian government is yet to address the cases of victimization of older women and men.

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“There have not been meaningful and genuine efforts to arrest and prosecute individuals who are involved in harassing and victimizing elderly people due to witchcraft accusations,” they say, and add, “Elderly women and men lack adequate protection from community members and the police.”

Because of the relaxed approach to the incidents of victimization, CCJP officials in Malawi say “impunity has been the order of the day as such inhumane treatment of vulnerable adults has been normalized in the rural communities.”

“It is worrisome that cases of witchcraft-based violence and the baseless accusations are perpetrated and orchestrated by traditional leaders, who are supposed to be custodians of culture and carers and protectors of vulnerable groups within the communities,” CCJP officials in Malawi say.

They add that the Malawian government “ought to be the watchdog of traditional leaders to address and discourage such pitiful practices as engagement of witchdoctors for witchcraft cleansing purposes in all corners of Malawi.”

CCJP Coordinators in Malawi call on the government “to take stern action against such traditional and community leaders.”

The government needs to urgently “ensure access to justice for all in order to guarantee that the older generation feels part of the Malawi society,” they say in their December 7 statement.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.