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Forced live organ extraction in China

Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Westminster Hall debate on ‘Forced live organ extraction in China’ has been scheduled for Tuesday 26 March 2019 from 9.30am to 11.00am. The debate has been initiated by Jim Shannon MP

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In 2006, two prominent Canadians – David Kilgour, a former MP, and David Matas, a human rights lawyer – published a report for the ‘Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong in China’, in which they gave credibility to claims that the Chinese authorities were harvesting organs from executed members of the group. At around the same time, the Chinese authorities acknowledged that they had been taking organs from executed prisoners but insisted it was only with their consent.

In the years since then, the Chinese authorities have announced steps to bring the practice to an end. The deadline eventually set for doing so was 1 January 2015. However, there continue to be allegations that the practice has not ended.

Amongst those concerned that the practice may be continuing was the Conservative Human Rights Commission. It published a report in July 2016 on human rights in China, The darkest moment: The crackdown on human rights in China 2013-16 (see pages 46-50).

An independent people’s tribunal chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC (former prosecutor of war crimes at the UN’s tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) is currently deliberating on the matter. It held public hearings in London in December 2018. Sir Geoffrey subsequently issued an interim judgement. In it he said:

The Tribunal’s members are all certain – unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt – that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practised for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims. We will deal in our final judgment in detail with our findings as to whether any international crimes have been committed by this practice, if so by whom and with detail as to time periods and numbers of victims. This final judgment will be derived from our further analysis of present material and other material yet to be provided and to legal advice yet to be received.

A final judgement is due to be released during 2019.

Successive UK governments have expressed concerns about claims of organ harvesting. They have often done so in the context of the ongoing ‘UK-China Human Rights Dialogue’ and ‘UK-China Strategic Dialogue’. On 25 February 2019 Baroness Goldie said in the Lords:

[…] We keep the issue under review and welcome any and all new evidence. At the moment, our analysis remains that the evidence available is not sufficiently strong to substantiate claims that state-sanctioned, systematic organ harvesting is happening in China. My noble friend referred to the World Health Organization. It collates global data on organ donations and works with China. Its view is that China is implementing an ethical voluntary organ transplant system, in accordance with international standards, although it does have concerns about overall transparency.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2019-0069

Authors: Timothy Robinson; Jon Lunn

Topics: Asia, Human rights

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