UN panel tells government to compensate lady with albinism

23Nov 2019
Aisia Rweyemamu
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
UN panel tells government to compensate lady with albinism

UNDER The Same Sun (UTSS), a charitable organization concerned with justice and welfare for people with albinism, has called on the government to compensate and provide medical care to a Tanzanian woman living with albinism who was attacked and her arms chopped off in 2011.

Mariam Stafford (36).

This follows a ruling by a panel of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP) in September which found that the authorities denied Mariam Stafford (36) justice by freeing the suspect she identified on the ground that she was visually impaired hence could not correctly see the attacker. Stafford referred the case to CRDP citing infringement of her rights for justice.

Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the UTSS director Berthasia Ladislaus said lawyers for UTSS and Stafford successfully argued that rejection of her case was in violation of articles 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15(1), 16 and 17of the convention which the Tanzania government is a party.

The director explained that in 2011 when the attackers were arrested, Stafford said that she knew the attackers well, but her testimony was given little weight because the court considered that as a person with visual impairment who could therefore not see well she could not correctly identify the attackers.

Ladislaus explained that after Stafford and UTSS referred the matter to the convention committee, the Tanzania government submitted its observations on the admissibility of Stafford’s case.

She elaborated that in January 2018 the government acknowledged receipt of the lawyers’ comments on behalf of the victim, and since then the government provided no further information by the fixed deadline.

On September 19 the UN committee delivered a ruling in favour of Stafford declaring that the government of Tanzania had failed to fulfill its obligations under article 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15(1), 16, 17 and 18 of the convention.

The tribunal ordered the government to provide her with an effective remedy including compensation, proper medical treatment and redress for the abuses suffered and provide other support devices.

The CRDP tribunal has also ordered the government to conduct an impartial, prompt and effective investigation into the attack suffered by Stafford and to prosecute and punish the perpetrators.

The committee has also ordered the country to review and adopt legal frameworks as necessary to ensure that they encompass all aspects of attacks against persons with albinism.

In accordance with article 5 of the optional protocol and rule 75 of the committee’s rules of procedure, the government should have submitted to the committee within six months a written response, including information on any action taken in the light of the present views and recommendations of the committee, starting from October 15.

UTSS urged the government to keep on cooperating with people with albinism and organizations representing them in the spirit that all people are equal and no one ought to be left behind.