Ikponwosa Ero is Canada-based Nigerian lawyer who has dedicated her life to working specifically on the issue of human rights as it applies to persons with albinism. In Africa especially, people with albinism face bullying, discrimination, kidnap and murder — in certain regions where witchcraft is still prominent and practised, there are still those that believe that the body parts of people with albinism hold magic powers that lead to prosperity. Children are the most at risk.
In 2015 she became the first-ever UN Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
Her work has seen her travel to countries across Africa — notably Malawi and Tanzania where discrimination and danger for this group is highest. She also came up with a regional action plan that has been taken to the African Union for endorsement and is continually raising funds to conduct valuable research to gain data that will enable decisions.
In January 2016, Ms Ikponwosa Ero submitted her first report on albinism to the UN Human Rights Council. Adding to the information contained in the report in 2017, an updated version was presented to the Human Rights Council, which included a focus on witchcraft as a key root cause of attacks against persons with albinism. And in July 2018, the Secretary-General transmitted Ero’s report to the General Assembly in accordance with Human Rights Council resolutions.
Ero herself has faced ostracism and discrimination and when she was a teen her and her family fled Nigeria to live in Canada, where she started working in law.
Prior to her role as UN Expert she worked for an NGO for people with albinism as a law advocate. While with the company, Ero submitted a complaint to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in December 2012 against the restaurant Earls. Ero said the restaurant’s beer name “Albino Rhino” was a form of discrimination against albinism, which led the restaurant to remove albino from the beer’s name in February 2013.