13 JUNE 2021
COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL ALBINISM AWARENESS DAY
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights joins all people in Kenya and indeed the rest of the world during this year’s commemoration of the International Albinism Awareness Day, celebrated on 13 June every year. Themed "Strength Beyond All Odds" this day offers an opportunity to pause and reflect, as we join with the rest of the world to highlight and celebrate the achievements of people with albinism despite all odds.
Albinism is “a relatively rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition resulting in little to no pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. The condition affects people worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. Persons with albinism are highly vulnerable to skin cancer and often have disabilities, mainly as a result of vision impairment and skin impairment. Attitudinal barriers exacerbate discrimination faced by persons with albinism. Persons with albinism are recognized as persons with disabilities and as persons who face racial discrimination and stigmatization on the ground of colour” (Report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism: Visit to Kenya (A/HRC/40/62/Add.3 22 January 2019).
The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census established that there are about 9,729 persons with albinism out of a total population of 47,564,296. Persons with albinism face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. They experience marginalization across many aspects of life including education, health care, employment and access to justice. They also face various kinds of human rights violations manifested in ostracism, bullying, abuse and other physical violence. Children and women are at a higher risk of compounded prejudices.
In May 2008, Kenya ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This placed an obligation on the State to adopt appropriate measures for the implementation of rights espoused in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and other relevant international, regional and national legal instruments. Additionally, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which Kenya has committed to implement, embraces a human rights-based approach in referring to persons with disabilities under various goals,including in education, employment, reducing inequalities, inclusive cities, and disaggregation of data by disabilities.
Following the 2015 review of Kenya by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, several recommendations were issued to the State specifically targeting persons with albinism (CRPD/C/KEN/CO/1). These include: Kenya to promptly investigate all cases of violence against persons with albinism, ensuring that they are appropriately prosecuted and punished; create redress services for victims of attacks, including free legal aid; redouble efforts to raise awareness about the dignity and rights of persons with albinism; and ensure the involvement of organizations of persons with albinism in any campaigns aimed at eliminating stigmatization and myths that underpin violence against persons with albinism.
The Commission notes the progress made in advancing the rights of persons with albinism as seen through different laws, policies and programmes. This includes the Kenya Government’s decision for inclusion, for the first time, in the 2019 population and housing census, an indicium specifically on albinism. This milestone sets the stage for planning and interventions to advance the rights of persons with albinism. In further advancing these rights, the Commission is collaborating with persons with albinism, their representative organisations, and other stakeholders towards the development of a Kenyan Plan of Action to end attacks and other human rights violations targeting persons with albinism. Despite these efforts, more still needs to be done, to enable and enhance the enjoyment of the rights of persons with albinism.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in line with its mandate continues to advocate for the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
We therefore call upon the State to enhance its efforts towards the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with albinism including the right to life, security and freedom of person as well as protection against torture and cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment. We further call upon the State, at both levels of government to increase public awareness on albinism and the human rights violations faced by persons with albinism.
Dr. Bernard Mogesa, PhD, CPM
Secretary to The Commission/Chief Executive Officer