Albinism Awareness Month: Tracking SA's progress

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu will on Monday host the UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights for Persons with Albinism, Ikponwosa Ero.

The UN Independent Expert is expected to conduct a fact finding mission in South Africa from 16-26 September 2019.

The visit serves as an important aspect of peer review and benchmarking South Africa’s successes against the implementation of its regional and international obligations on persons with disabilities.

In line with Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRDP), the Social Development Department provides financial support to the Albinism Society of South Africa to roll out programmes and services throughout South Africa.

These include among others, awareness and advocacy programmes, capacity building of organisations representing persons with albinism, provision of dignity packs and improving access to education for children with disabilities.

During the visit the UN Independent Expert will also assess South Africa’s progress with regard to implementation of the CRDP, with specific focus on protecting and promoting the human rights of persons with albinism.

Ero’s visit also coincides with Albinism Awareness Month which seeks to provide information and create greater public awareness on albinism.

In partnership with the MTN SA Foundation, Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has to date officially handed over 40 multimedia computer laboratories to schools catering for children with disabilities, including children with albinism.

As part of processes towards the development of the National Strategy and Programme of Action on Albinism, the Deputy Minister convened a national roundtable and continues to hold dialogues with traditional leaders on harmful cultural practices and beliefs that violate the human rights of persons with albinism.

Part of finalising the work on the National Albinism Strategy and National Action Plan on Albinism is to develop a national database of persons and organisations for persons with albinism.

The department is also working with the Albinism Advocacy for Access Foundation to provide early identification and early intervention services for persons with albinism. All learners with albinism will be tracked to monitor their progress and to ensure they complete school. It is envisaged that at least 450 learners with albinism will benefit from the programme over the next three years.

On the African continent persons with albinism face numerous human rights violations, including abduction, attacks and senseless killings.

Between 2000 and 2013, the United Nations received 200 reports of ritual attacks on people with albinism across 15 African countries. South Africa is one of the countries where such cases were reported, with a notable upsurge in the abduction and killing of persons with albinism between 2017 and 2018.

This led to a joint response by government and organisations working with persons with albinism and chapter 9 institutions which resulted in significant decline in reported cases of abduction and killing of persons with albinism across the country.

A key success factor in this regard was the coordinated response by both government and community based organisations to conduct public awareness, matched equally by the responsive criminal justice system which resulted in successful prosecution and conviction of perpetrators of crimes against persons with albinism.

On the legislative front, South Africa is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with (UNCRDP) and the Optional Protocol, both of which were domesticated through the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and incorporated into the other enacted pieces of legislation.

South Africa also ratified the African Union (AU) Protocol on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which makes specific mention of persons with albinism. In March this year, the AU Ministerial Committee on Labour and Social Protection endorsed the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa 2017-2022. –