MEDIA ADVISORY: MALAWI HIGH COURT TO HEAR CASE ON DISCRIMINATORY SENTENCING ON MAN WITH ALBINISM

7 February, 2017

Thyolo – On Wednesday 8 February 2017, the Malawi High Court in Thyolo will hear arguments on an appeal of a man with albinism who argues that the sentence imposed on him for a minor offence was discriminatory.

What:              Challenge against discriminatory sentencing of a man with albinism

Where:            Malawi High Court sitting at the Magistrate’s Court in Thyolo

When:             8 February 2017

The appellant is a man with albinism who was charged with and pleaded guilty to being found drunk and incapable in a public place contrary to section 183(1) of the Malawi Penal Code. He was unrepresented at his trial. In determining his sentence, the Magistrates Court took into account the appellant’s albinism as an aggravating circumstance and sentenced him to a fine of MWK10,000.000 or six months’ imprisonment.

The appellant argues that the sentence imposed on him is unconstitutional and discriminatory on the basis of his albinism. He argues further that the Court impermissibly sought to use him as a scapegoat to deter other offenders despite that he was a first-time offender and failed to appreciate his albinism as a disability and as a mitigating circumstance. He argues that the sentence, being ten times the maximum penalty under the Penal Code and by imposing an impermissible custodial sentence for the offence in the alternative, is manifestly excessive and unlawful. He asks that his sentence be set aside.

The State agrees that the sentence imposed is excessive and ought to be set aside.

The appellant is represented by Mr Daniel Kalaya of Liberty Legal Consultants.

For more information:

Annabel Raw, Health Rights Lawyer, Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC): Tel: +27 (0)10 596 8538; Email: AnnabelR@salc.org.za

Victor Mhango, Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA): Tel: +265 9999 52256, 888 95 22 56, victormhango@chreaa.org

Immaculate Maluza, Programmes Manager, CHREAA: Tel: +265 888 64 78 47, emma.maluza@gmail.com

For background on the case: http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/cases/ongoing-cases/malawi-discriminatory-sentencing-against-persons-with-albinism/

For Twitter updates: Follow_SALC #ThyoloAlbinism