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Group Calls For More Protection For Albinos in East Africa


The Albinism Society of Kenya says it is satisfied with the sentencing of a Kenyan who tried to sell an albino man to witch doctors in Tanzania, but argues that more needs to be done to protect those with albinism in the region. Nathan Mutei was sentenced to 17 years in prison by a Tanzanian court for attempting to sell the man in a remote part of the country where some believe albino body parts contain supernatural powers.


Albinism Society of Kenya Secretary Alex Kaluyu said the organization appreciated the sentencing, but more severe punishments should be given to those who seek to harm people with albinism.

"When it comes to the sentence, it is never enough because that is attempted murder, as much as we appreciate it, it is not enough, we need to see more," said Kaluyu.

Reports say Nathan Mutei tricked albino Robinson Mwkana into traveling with him from Kenya to Tanzania by saying he would find the man a job. Instead, Mutei intended to offer Mkwana to witch doctors, who, Mutei thought, would murder him and use his body parts in potions.

A spate of killings across the last few years, many in the remote northwest of Tanzania, has led to increased protection for those living with albinism in the country. Certain people in these regions believe the body parts of albinos, who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes, can bring good luck.

The problem may have been particularly explosive in Tanzania, but Kaluyu says there is a significant risk in other east African countries. Albinos in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been violently persecuted too, Kaluyu says.

The arrest of a Kenyan has brought the issue to national attention in the country and Kaluyu says the case is proof that injustices in Tanzania are putting people at risk in neighboring countries too.

"We are not safe at all because if these guys are crossing the border and coming to take somebody from here, someone with albinism, take him for trading in Tanzania, no one is safe," said Kaluyu.

The Albinism Society of Kenya says the country's government has been mostly silent about protecting those with albinism, and called on leaders to work closely with Tanzania in addressing the problem.

Kenya's Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities has expressed its concerns about the safety of albinos and has called for a national census to determine the exact number of people living with the condition. The committee says albinos are marginalized in Kenya and it will encourage the government to have them protected.

News reports say Nathan Mutei's sentences, eight years for abduction and nine years for human trafficking, will run simultaneously, meaning he will serve nine years in prison for his crimes.



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