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Press Statement in Response to Hon. MP. Junet Mohamed’s Disability Comments Against Senator Dr. Isaac Mwaura

Nairobi, 9th February, 2021                                   

Press Statement in Response to Hon. MP. Junet Mohamed’s Disability Comments Against Senator Dr. Isaac Mwaura

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) condemns in the strongest terms possible the unpalatable utterances by the Suna East MP- Hon. Junet Mohamed, which ridiculed Hon. Senator Dr. Isaac Mwaura’s disability (albinism). Such utterances are the epitome of stigmatization of disability. Stigma creates social exclusion and exacerbates mental and psychosocial distress amongst individuals who are members of the stigmatized group (in this case, persons with albinism). The utterances by Hon. Junet Mohamed are contrary to Article 54(1) (a) of the Constitution, which provides that a person with any disability is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and to be addressed and referred to in a manner that is not demeaning

Leaders have a crucial role to play in ending stigma and discrimination, and it is therefore very unfortunate when a person in a position of power perpetuates stigma and discrimination against persons with disabilities. Under Chapter 6 of the Constitution, leadership comes with responsibilities. Article 73 (1) (a) (ii) of the Constitution states that the authority assigned to a State officer is a public trust to be exercised in a manner that demonstrates respect for the people. Persons with disabilities have made important contributions to our society and it is disrespectful to depict them as individuals who are only there to be ‘helped’ (“nilikuwa nafikiria yeye ni mlemavu ambaye inafaa asaidiwe”).   

Furthermore, negative utterances against persons with albinism in general evoke negative attitudes against them, dehumanize them, and could even lead to violence against these individuals. In the past decade, 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, have reported cases of attacks against persons with albinism. These attacks, increasingly viewed as hate crimes, target persons with albinism for the use of their body parts in rituals associated with harmful practices related to certain manifestations of witchcraft beliefs. This is a group that deserves solidarity rather than ridicule and abuse.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights exhorts all leaders, in their political contestation to conquer and out-manoeuvre their opponents, to be alive that they are bound by the national values and principles of governance under Article 10 of the Constitution, that include human dignity, inclusiveness and protection of the marginalized.

Facts:

  • Albinism is a relatively rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition that affects people worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. It results from a significant deficit in the production of melanin and is characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in any or all of the skin, hair or eyes. Persons with albinism often appear pale in comparison to members of their family and their community.
  • Albinism is a condition experienced by 0.02% of Kenya’s population according to the 2019 National Census.
  • The Government, through the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, has registered around 3,500 persons with albinism.

 

Dr. Bernard Mogesa, PhD, CPM

Chief Executive Officer/ Secretary to The Commission

1Report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism (2019) A/HRC/40/62/Add.3

2Development initiatives ‘Status of disability in Kenya: Statistics from the 2019 Census’ https://devinit.org/resources/status-disability-kenya-statistics-2019-census/ accessed 9 February 2021

3Report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism (2019) A/HRC/40/62/Add.3

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