‘Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2020’ welcomed after introduction to both houses of the United States Congress

444

Susie Hughes, Executive Director of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse In China (ETAC), the human rights NGO that initiated the China Tribunal in 2018, has today welcomed the introduction of a Bill entitled the ‘Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2020’ to the US legislature, stating:

“This Bill is one of the most comprehensive ever introduced on the issue of trafficking in organs and trafficking in humans for the purpose of organ removal. It not only addresses global organ trafficking more broadly, it contributes to stopping the forced organ harvesting trade in China that claims the lives of innocent people every day.

“The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of is one of the most significant international responses to the China Tribunal’s Judgment to date. We hope that more governments will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of the United States, to ensure their own citizens are not caught up in the mass murder of innocents for their organs in China.”

The introduction of the ‘Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2020’ is an important and necessary response to the damning judgment of the China Tribunal, which unanimously concluded that, “in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims.”

Presented in the Senate by Senator Tom Cotton and in the House of Representatives by Congressman Chris Smith (Republican, New Jersey) and Congressman Tom Suozzi (Democrat, New York), this bi-partisan legislation seeks to fight the global organ trafficking trade and to specifically address the CCP’s practice of forced organ harvesting.  The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2020 will expand the US government’s powers to combat organ harvesting, impose harsher penalties for purchasing organs, prohibit the export of organ transplant surgery devices to entities responsible for human organ trafficking, impose sanctions on individuals and government officials in countries who support human organ trafficking and forced organ harvesting, and introduces mandatory reporting on human organ trafficking in foreign countries and on US institutions which train organ transplant surgeons.

In 2019 the China Tribunal, an independent international people’s tribunal chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, lead prosecutor of Slobodan Milošević at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), assessed all available evidence regarding forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. The Tribunal held public hearings where over 50 witnesses testified. Huge volumes of written evidence were analysed, including research showing the deliberate falsification of China’s public organ donation data that helped the CCP to cover-up the killing of innocent people, primarily peaceful Falun Gong practitioners, to support a lucrative trade in human organs.

The China Tribunal’s judgment presents the first-ever independent legal analysis of all available evidence regarding forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.

David Matas, Human Rights Lawyer and co-founder of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) stated: 

“ETAC welcomes the Bill both as a matter of substance and as a matter of strategy. What is so glaringly wrong in China, when it comes to organ transplant surgery, will become even more obvious when it is held up to comparison to every other country in the world. 

“How do we get the Chinese Communist Party and the state it runs to stop the killing of innocents for their organs?  One way is surely to shine a light on what they are doing.  This Bill is important for proposing exactly that, not just on China alone, but on every other country in the world, as points of contrast with China.”

Marion Smith, Executive Director, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said:

“The introduction of the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2020 is an important step forward to hold perpetrators of the horrific crime of forced organ harvesting accountable. We call on the U.S. Congress to support swift passage of this legislation to combat organ trafficking and trafficking in persons for organs around the world.  

“Our organization’s research has shown the shocking depravity of the Chinese Communist Party’s system of organ harvesting and the unprecedented scale of China’s organ transplant system—the United States must take action to examine, condemn, and help stop these blatant human rights violations.”

The text of the bill can be found here: https://www.cotton.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CAN20880.pdf

For comments from the co-sponsors please see the Bill press release here: 

https://www.cotton.senate.gov/news/press-releases/cotton-smith-suozzi-introduce-bill-to-stop-chinese-forced-organ-harvesting

Notes to Editors 

Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2020

The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act 2020 seeks to:

·         Authorise the US government to deny or revoke passports for illegal organ purchasers 

·         Require an annual report by the State Department on human organ trafficking in foreign countries.  The State Department reporting would identify foreign officials and entities involved in forced organ harvesting  

·         Require an annual report on US institutions that train organ transplant surgeons affiliated with foreign entities involved in forced organ harvesting 

·         Prohibit the export of organ transplant surgery devices to countries responsible for forced organ harvesting 

·         Impose sanctions on individuals and government officials who engage in or otherwise support human organ trafficking and forced organ harvesting. 

The China Tribunal

The China Tribunal was chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and was the world’s first independent legal analysis of all available evidence regarding forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China. Joining Sir Geoffrey Nice QC were six panel members from the US, UK, Malaysia and Iran; bringing expertise in international human rights law, transplant surgery, international relations, Chinese history and business. 

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, China Tribunal Chair 

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC is a world-renowned expert in crimes of mass atrocity.  He worked at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – the ICTY – where he prosecuted a number of cases relating to genocide, and in November 2001 undertook the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević until the end of that trial in 2006. Sir Geoffrey Nice was knighted for his services to international criminal justice. 

China’s Organ Transplant Industry 

China’s organ trade is estimated to have a market value of $1 billion per annum. China’sorgan transplant industry has been developed on a very large scale with significant investment into hospitals , medical personnel and other infrastructure. In 2000, coinciding with the beginning of the persecution of the Buddhist meditation practice Falun Gong, China’s organ transplantation industry exploded in activity. Vital organs became readily available within a matter of days, while reports of ‘emergency’ livers being sourced within 4 hours began to emerge. State-run hospitals and hundreds of independent websites began advertising incredibly short wait times for transplant operations involving hearts, livers, kidneys and corneas. The waiting time for transplants ranged from a matter of hours to a number of days – a timeframe which no other national transplantation system in the world has ever been able to achieve.From this time, global accusations began to emerge alleging that China’s organ supply for transplant operations could not possibly have been sourced purely from a legal, voluntary donation process.  

Chinese State of Persecution 

An established state of persecution is in place in China with an estimated 1.5 million ‘prisoners of conscience’ in detention at any one time. Whilst detainees include House Church Christians and Tibetans, it is primarily Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghur Muslims who have been the most affected to date. Falun Gongis a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline of the peaceful ‘Buddha School’. By 1999, officials estimated that the Falun Gong population in China numbered approximately 70 million. Falun Gong’s growing popularity alarmed Chinese state officials, generating a 1999 nationwide crackdown to eradicate the practice. This saw the creation of the 610 Office, an extrajudicial security agency established by the Chinese state to completely eradicate Falun Gong practitioners. Find further information about the 610 Office here:  

https://freedomhouse.org/article/610-office-policing-chinese-spirit-0

https://chinatribunal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/610_Office_Information.pdf

Scholars estimate that perhaps over a million Falun Gong practitioners have been in custody at any given time in the country’s vast network of detention camps. In 2006, systematic reports of forced organ extraction from prisoners of conscience came to light, providing a grisly explanation for the source of organs underpinning the dramatic nationwide expansion of China’s organ transplantation sector. More recently the current mass incarceration of Uyghurs in Xinjiang appears to be providing a new pool of victims for forced organ harvesting. Witnesses to the Tribunal reported brutal detention conditions in Xinjiang detention camps, along with the familiar pattern of blood tests, organ scans and disappearance of prisoners who had been tested. 

International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) 

The China Tribunal was initiated by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), a human rights charity dedicated to bringing an end to forced organ harvesting in China. ETAC felt compelled to establish the China Tribunal given that multiple reports on Chinese forced organ harvesting, some from very eminent bodies, had not investigated whether China’s transplant practices amounted to – or included – commission of international criminal offences. Whilst ETAC initiated the Tribunal, there was a necessary and scrupulous separation betweenETAC and the Tribunal. ETAC was at no stage privy to the Tribunal’s work and deliberation of evidence.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) is an educational, research, and human rights non-profit organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to pursuing the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.

The Foundation was authorized in 1993 by a unanimous Act of Congress signed as Public Law 103-199 by President William J. Clinton on December 17, 1993. On June 12, 2007, President George W. Bush dedicated the Victims of Communism Memorial statue in Washington, D.C.

International Response since the establishment of the China Tribunal  

  • In the first official statement from a major U.S political party on China’s organ crimes, the US Republican National Committee (RNC) unanimously passed a resolution condemning “China’s involuntary organ harvesting as a major human rights violation” in August 2019. 
  • In September 2019,China’s forced organ harvesting crimes were announced at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the first time in the Council’s history. The historic moment saw Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the China Tribunal, declarethat it is now the “legal obligation” of United Nations (UN) member states to address forced organ harvesting in China.  
  • joint letter to the UN High Commissioner, UN Secretary-General and UN Member States, signed by 18 international organisations is calling for a UN Commission of Inquiry into forced organ harvesting in China.   
  • In the UK, members of the House of Lords are pressing for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to look closely at the China Tribunal’s findings. The WHO, who had previously advised the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office that China’s transplant practices were ethical, has now acknowledged that the information on which they had based their advice was in fact “based on the self-assessment made by the country that is a signatory, and in this case that is China.”  
  • 24 academic studies about transplanted organs by researchers in China were retracted in August 2019 due to concerns the work may have used organs from executed prisoners. 
  • In Canada, a bill to prevent organ trafficking received unanimous support from both the House of Commons and the Senate.   
  • An ‘organ harvesting’ amendment to the UK Medicines and Medical Devices Bill has been proposed in the House of Lords by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath and Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, which seeks to give the authorities the power to introduce regulations preventing medicines developed or manufactured using human tissue originating from victims of forced organ harvesting from entering the UK healthcare system.