KENYA NATIONAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Nairobi, Tuesday June 13th, 2022
International Albinism Awareness Day: “United in Making our Voice Heard”
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) joins the rest of the world in marking the 2022 International Albinism Awareness Day, under the theme “United in making Our Voice heard”. Celebrated on June 13th every year, the day presents an opportunity to increase awareness on albinism, to champion for the rights of persons with albinism and to reflect on and celebrate their successes.
Albinism is a rare, recessive, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition, which occurs worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender. It most commonly results in the lack of melanin pigment in the hair, skin and eyes causing vulnerability to sun exposure that can cause skin cancer and low vision. The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census revealed that there are approximately 9,729 persons with albinism in Kenya.
Persons with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination and stigma that are rooted in pervasive myths and misconceptions about albinism. This discrimination affects all aspects of their lives, including in social, educational, health and employment contexts. In the most extreme cases, persons with albinism face trafficking, mutilation and killing. Notably, women with albinism and children with albinism face intersecting forms of discrimination based on their gender and age. Resultantly, persons with albinism comprise one of the poorest demographics within a country.
Kenya is a State Party to several regional and international human rights instruments that recognize the rights of persons with albinism. Key among them is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Kenya ratified in May 2008. The Convention enshrines the principle of equality and non-discrimination for all persons, including persons with albinism. Kenya is also a State Party to the International Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, which recognizes that racial discrimination is any distinction, exclusion, restriction or reference based on colour, and obligates State parties to eliminate it. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, in whose development Kenya actively participated, calls upon States to leave no one behind, including persons with albinism.
As we commemorate this day, it is worth reflecting on the progress Kenya has made towards protecting and promoting the rights of persons with albinism. The Commission commends the State for ratifying the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa. To further enhance protection of persons with disabilities, including among them persons with albinism, the Commission urges the State to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CRPD. Currently, the Kenya National commission on Human Rights is in the process of developing a Kenya National Action Plan on Albinism to aid in the implementation of the African Union Regional Action Plan on Albinism (2021-2031). This will guide efforts towards protecting the rights of persons with albinism in Kenya.
The Kenya National commission on Human Rights echoes the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and urges the State 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.
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights