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Fear Grips Albino Community in Tanzania As Pressure Mounts on Authorities to Ensure Its Members’ Safety As Elections Near

It follows the tragic murder of a two-year-old girl with albinism who was found dead with some body parts missing after missing for about three weeks.

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Mwanza. The untimely and horrific murder of a two-year-old albino girl, Asimwe Novath, will most likely confirm and strengthen fears that some actors hold that authorities in Tanzania have failed to ensure the safety of people with albinism, a failure that might constitute the violations of the country’s national and international obligations to protect people with disabilities.

Asimwe’s body was found dumped in a gutter while preserved in a sachet bag on June 17, 2024, without several parts of her body, like eyes and arms. The toddler from the Muleba district, Kagera region, was found three weeks after unidentified men snatched her from her home in the Bulamula village with her body already showing signs of decay.

Police in the region said they’d launched an operation to arrest people responsible for the crime, with the Kagera deputy regional police commander Yusuph Daniel telling journalists on June 18, 2024, that law enforcement officers will do whatever it takes to bring people responsible for the crime to justice.

 On June 19, police said they were holding nine people who were arrested with body parts suspected to belong to people with albinism as part of its operation.

A place where the body of Asimwe Novath was found

But few are optimistic that justice will be served. Godson Mollel, the national chairperson of the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS), a nonprofit that supports people with albinism in the country, has criticised law enforcement authorities for failing to prioritise the plight of people with albinism in Tanzania, seeking the intervention of the Head of State.

“We haven’t seen the police issuing a strongly worded statement against these attacks on members of our community,” Mr Mollel, himself living with albinism, told The Chanzo in an interview. “Neither on [the Asimwe’s] incident nor those which preceded it. That’s why we seek an audience with President Samia Suluhu Hassan to raise our issues with her.”

READ MORE: Search for Missing Two-Year-Old Albino Girl Intensifies; Three Detained

Speaking during a media stakeholders’ conference at the Mlimani City Conference Hall in Dar es Salaam on June 18, 2024, President Samia condemned the murder of the girl, saying she was “touched” by the tragic incident. The Head of State urged participants to observe a one-minute silence for Asimwe and media entrepreneur and ambassador Ferdinand Кamuntu Ruhinda, who died on June 15, 2024.


Reports of the kidnapping and subsequent tragic murder of Asimwe came almost a month after United Nations experts accused Tanzania on April 25, 2024, of abdicating its responsibility to protect people with albinism.

Members of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities arrived at the conclusion after authorities allegedly indicated unwillingness to follow up on three petitions filed to the committee concerning the mutilation of people with albinism –that occurred in Tanzania between 2008 and 2010 – and the lack of accountability for such abuses in Tanzania.

“We call on [Tanzania] to urgently and unambiguously condemn any attacks against people with albinism and to investigate any such attacks promptly and effectively,” a statement quoted committee member Amalia Gamio Ríos saying.

“Failure to do so sends a message that ritual killings and mutilations are condoned, which amounts to serious violations of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Gamio Ríos added.

However, then-government chief spokesperson Mobhare Matinyi denied the accusations, telling The Chanzo that Tanzania has not abdicated its obligation to protect people with albinism.

READ MORE: UN Experts Accuse Tanzania of Abdicating Its Responsibility to Protect People With Albinism

Actions needed

But Fulgence Massawe, acting executive secretary of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), which promotes human rights and good governance in Tanzania, told The Chanzo that it’s high time the government’s rhetorics on safeguarding the safety of vulnerable communities matches its actions in stopping the “senseless” murder of innocent people.

“Authorities should now act to end these murders of people who need government’s protection,” Mr Massawe, whose organisation released a joint statement with the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition to condemn the Asimwe incident, said. 

“It cannot continue like this where people are killed like mice,” he added. “It is the state’s responsibility to care for its people, and that involves ensuring their protection.”

Asimwe’s murder was preceded by the attack of Kazungu Julius, a ten-year-old boy with albinism from Geita who was injured  on May 4, 2024, after unidentified men attacked him with machetes in an attempt to take some of his body parts. 

To this date, police have not released any report on the arrest of the assailants or the investigation into the incident.

There was no reported murder of people with albinism in Tanzania in 2023. Still, a year before, on November 2, 2022, people who are yet to be identified attacked a fifty-year-old Joseph Mathias from Mwanza, hacking off his right arm before he died of excessive loss of blood.

READ MORE: Fear As Albino Persecution Makes a Comeback in Tanzania


Several organisations  have condemned the murder of Asimwe and the increasing attacks on people with albinism in Tanzania, with many of them urging national security organs to ramp up efforts to protect the community’s members, which will involve investigating the reported incidents and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Speaking in parliament yesterday June 18,2024,  Khadija Shaaban a member of parliament with albinism said most of the albino community become anxious when the election nears, a perception among some communities that some candidates believe that witchcraft will help their odds in the election.

“Here, as I speak, people with albinism do not have peace, they are anxious, they believe that as the election nears, their lives are in danger. And we, as Members of Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania, are going into elections, let’s adjourn all activities and discuss this,” said MP Shaaban.

In their joint statement on Wednesday,corroborate Shabaan’s account, LHRC and THRDC said attacks on people with albinism are likely to increase in the country as elections near as some prospective candidates superstitiously associate people with albinism or their parts with political or economic fortune.

“We are disappointed with the relevant authorities’ response to the Asimwe incident, including their failure to update the general public on steps taken to save the girl before she was found dead, missing some parts of her body,” the organisations said.

“These attacks fill people with albinism with fear, unsure of their safety and protection in a country that likes to describe itself as an island of peace,” the organisations added. “[Asimwe’s incident] should serve as a wake-up call for authorities on the need for joint efforts in ending violence against people with albinism.” 

Matonyinga Makaro reports for The Chanzo from Mwanza. He’s available at

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