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19 face death penalty over albino killings in Tanzania

Tanzania Nineteen people have been sentenced to death after being convicted of killing albinos, the Tanzanian government has confirmed.

Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Hamad Yusuf Masauni said on Saturday that the convicted are among 133 people arrested and charged with killing people with albinism from 2006 to 2015.

“Other albino attacks and killings cases are in different stages in different courts countrywide,” the minister said in a telephone interview from Dodoma, Tanzania’s administrative capital.

Masauni said at least 75 people with albinism have been killed in Tanzania since 2006, while more than 100 people have been attacked and mutilated.

Such attacks are due in large part to widespread superstition in East Africa that body parts of people with albinism carry magical powers that witch doctors claim to harness, or other beliefs that view albinos as cursed or causing bad luck.

Commenting on the plea from people with albinism asking the government to implement death penalties for those convicted of the killings, the minister said the government is keen on exercising the court’s ruling.

“Death penalties have long procedures and processes to be followed before implementation. Once we are done with the process, those found guilty will be executed,” Masauni said.

Last year, the government formed a tripartite committee involving government officials, people with albinism, witch doctors who are believed to have a hand on albino killings and other stakeholders, as a strategy to combat attacks and killings of people with albinism.

The Tanzanian government has also targeted witch doctors, arresting more than 200 of them in different parts of the country, as part of the fight against albino killings.

The government, civil society and various groups including those with albinism have also joined hands to prevent attacks through special concerts, radio and TV programs in both public and privately owned media outlets.

Apart from Tanzania, albino attacks and killings have also been reported in other East African countries, including Burundi and Kenya.

By Robert Muriisa.

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