Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Albino killings in Tanzania

Delivered in Plenary - 4th September 2008

Mr President

The plight of albino people in Tanzania seems barely credible in today’s age. When I first heard about this issue, it seemed like something straight out of Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness. I would like to believe in the renaissance and potential of Africa, as so many other colleagues in this House seem to, but the murder of albino people for their body parts does nothing to improve the image of the continent internationally. Sadly, the suffering of albino people is not limited to Tanzania but occurs all over Africa.

Quite apart from the medical consequences of albinism in the tropics, including a high risk of terrible skin cancers, the long-suffering albino people are at best traditionally considered as freaks or curiosities, and at worst they are murdered to satisfy demand for traditional medicine that is more akin to medieval sorcery.

The EU should not hesitate to campaign on the issue and bring pressure to bear on countries like Tanzania, where, apparently, such scant regard for human rights and dignity is common. However, I am heartened that the Tanzanian President has appealed to his people to change their traditional ways. Let us hope that other leaders throughout Africa repeat this important message.