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Sun, 27 September 2020

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Government must act on British complicity in China’s forced organ harvesting

Government must act on British complicity in China’s forced organ harvesting

The world is increasingly aware of China’s forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, writes Lord Hunt and Baroness Finlay. | PA Images

4 min read

An amendment to the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill could ensure human body tissue and organs that have been forcibly harvested are not allowed to enter the UK for medicines or medical testing.

China’s forced organ harvesting is not just a China problem; the UK could be complicit. The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, now before the House of Lords provides an opportunity to put things right.

The world is increasingly aware of China’s forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

This horrific crime of forcibly removing the organs from living victims - the process leading to inevitable murder - has recently been found by the China Tribunal to be happening extensively. The organ recipient may have had their life saved, but at the expense of another innocent life.

It is now a multi-million-pound commercial business in China, with wealthy Chinese officials, Chinese nationals and organ tourists receiving treatment in high-end recovery centres.

The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill currently in the House of Lords, provides an opportunity to prevent British complicity in such crimes.

For years the Chinese Government denied this crime was happening and the World Health Organization (WHO) repeatedly backed up the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – until it was revealed by the UK government last year that the WHO’s assessment is based on China’s own self-assessment and that the WHO has not carried out its own assessment of China’s organ transplant system.

The WHO does not have an independent expert compliance assessment mechanism to conduct such assessments, it merely has a reporting requirement.

Evidence of forced organ harvesting has grown and whistle blowers have emerged.

Evidence encompasses detailed statistical analysis of transplantations and donations, recorded undercover telephone conversations, legal and policy statements and practice of the government and the party, advertisements and admissions by university and military personnel and many personal testimonies.

Last year, the China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC (former lead prosecutor of Slobodan Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) concluded that “forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main - source of organ supply.” And that In regard to the Uyghurs the Tribunal had evidence of medical testing on a scale that could allow them, amongst other uses, to become an ‘organ bank’.”

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition and meditation practice, and the Uyghurs are a largely Muslim ethnic minority. Both these minorities have been demonised by the Chinese Communist Party through propaganda in state run media. The Party also persecutes Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and other faiths.

All these “political prisoners” are at risk of forced organ harvesting.

The tribunal assessed all available evidence, interviewed over 50 witnesses, experts and investigators, and formally invited representatives of the People’s Republic of China to respond.

It presented its findings to the United Nations in September 2019 and released its full judgement in March this year.

The China Tribunal stated in its final judgement “Governments and any who interact in any substantial way with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] ……   should now recognise that they are …interacting with a criminal state.”

The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill currently in the House of Lords, provides an opportunity to prevent British complicity in such crimes.

The Bill is intended to repatriate the regulation of medicines and medical devices following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Its scope is broad and an amendment could be accepted to ensure ethics in the origin and treatment of human tissue and organs in the process of developing and manufacturing medicines. Such an amendment could give the authorities the means to ensure human body tissue and organs that have been forcibly harvested are not allowed to enter the UK for medicines or medical testing.

If the government does not agree to bring forward its own amendment to the Bill to close these legislative gaps, then we will do so with extensive, cross-party support.

 

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath is a Labour Life peer in the House of Lords. Baroness Finlay of Llandaff is a Crossbench Life peer in the House of Lords.

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