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Discrimination Against Albino People


Hon. Scott Tannas: Honourable senators, I rise today to be the first of a number of senators over the next few days to speak to a particularly heinous form of discrimination that is on the upswing in East Africa: discrimination against albino people.

There is a significant market for albino body parts in countries like Tanzania and Malawi. Such body parts are used by witch doctors in spells and charms that claim to bring luck and wealth.

The kidnapping and murders of albino people is a practice born of ignorance and motivated by profits. Witch doctors will pay as much as $75,000 for a full set of albino body parts, according to a 2009 report by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It is often the family members of the albino individual who precipitate these crimes.

The government of Tanzania admitted on May 27 of this year that the increased attacks on albino people may be as a result of the upcoming general election in that country. Although the government of Tanzania has outlawed witch doctors to try to curb the albino attacks, this doesn't necessarily decrease the demand for albino parts, including from political elites.

Colleagues, we can all be part of the solution on this issue. We need to raise awareness for this issue and also condemn this heinous form of discrimination in the strongest terms. We in Canada have developed and earned a deep friendship with the countries in this region, and sometimes friendship demands frank discussions and strong messages. We need to reach out to our political counterparts in East Africa and make it clear to them that committing violence against their fellow countrymen will not help them win the election, that this behaviour is not that of a civilized people, and that it has no place in a modern democracy.

With continued education and political pressure, we can contribute to the end of discrimination against albino people.