GENEVA (28 July 2021) – Killings of people with albinism have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as some people plunged into poverty turned to witchcraft in hopes of gaining quick wealth, Ikponwosa Ero, the outgoing UN independent expert on the rights of people with albinism, said today.

“Despite progress on many fronts, I was deeply saddened at the notable increase in reported cases of people with albinism being killed or attacked because of the mistaken believe that using their body parts in potions can bring good luck and wealth,” she said. “Even more tragically, the majority of victims have been children.”

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Ero was named to the post by the Human Rights Council in 2015 and will be succeeded on 01 August by Ms. Muluka Anne Miti-Drummond of Zambia.

“As I leave office, I am gratified that the Human Rights Council has, in an historic resolution, condemned harmful practices related to witchcraft and ritual attacks, but there is still much to be done,” she said.

The ground-breaking resolution passed by the Human Rights Council earlier his month condemned human rights violations committed through witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks and called for international consultation and recommendations on the matter.

“I have spent the last six years battling witchcraft-related attacks against people with albinism, and am gratified that there has been much progress on several continents, despite some setbacks during the pandemic,” said Ero.

As progress on the issue, she cited a regional action plan on albinism in Africa in collaboration with the African Union. In addition, awareness-raising campaigns have increased public understanding of the challenges for persons with albinism in Africa and globally, including in countries like Brazil, Japan and Fiji.

Research on albinism has increased more than tenfold, she said, and the explosion in data and reliable information has increased understanding of how the right to health, education, on disability rights and racial discrimination pertain to people with albinism. There is also increased understanding of the rights of women and children impacted by albinism and the need to protect against harmful practices.

“While we have come very far in the fight against these heinous acts, the road ahead remains long and arduous,” said Ero. “For this reason, this mandate remains crucial, and I call on States to provide all possible support to my successor.”