UN human rights experts alarmed by ‘organ harvesting’ allegations
GENEVA (14 June 2021) – UN human rights experts* said today they were extremely alarmed by reports of alleged ‘organ harvesting’ targeting minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians, in detention in China.
The experts said they have received credible information that detainees from ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities may be forcibly subjected to blood tests and organ examinations such as ultrasound and x-rays, without their informed consent; while other prisoners are not required to undergo such examinations. The results of the examinations are reportedly registered in a database of living organ sources that facilitates organ allocation.
“Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations,” they said. “We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief.
“According to the allegations received, the most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and, less commonly, parts of livers. This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists.”
UN human rights experts have previously raised the issue with the Chinese Government in 2006 and 2007. Unfortunately, the Government responses lacked data such as waiting times for organ allocation, or information on the sources of organs. In this context, the lack of available data and information-sharing systems are obstacles to the successful identification and protection of victims of trafficking and effective investigation and prosecution of traffickers.
Another UN Human Rights mechanism has also highlighted concerns about the practice of removing organs from prisoners of a certain religious minority.
“Despite the gradual development of a voluntary organ donation system, information continues to emerge regarding serious human rights violations in the procurement of organs for transplants in China,” the UN experts said.
Concern remains at the lack of independent oversight as to whether the consent to donation and organ allocation is effectively given by prisoners or detainees. It is also reported that families of deceased detainees and prisoners are prevented from claiming their bodies, they said.
The experts call on China to promptly respond to the allegations of ‘organ harvesting’ and to allow independent monitoring by international human rights mechanisms.
The Special Procedures mandate holders have been in contact with China to strengthen dialogue. They would like to continue this constructive engagement with the Government of China.