UN rights experts ‘extremely alarmed’ by forced organ harvesting in China

Geneva: United Nations (UN) human rights experts have sounded alarm over the reports of alleged ‘organ harvesting’ that is targeting minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims and Christians, who are currently in detention in China.

According to a statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the experts said that 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.

“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. We are deeply concerned over reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief,” they said.

The experts said that the allegations highlighted that the most common organs removed from the prisoners are reportedly hearts, kidneys, livers, corneas and, less commonly, parts of livers, which allegedly involve health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists.

The OHCHR said that UN human rights experts have previously raised the issue with the Chinese Government in 2006 and 2007, but the government lacked data such as waiting times for organ allocation, or information on the sources of organs.

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.

They also said that 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 and over the reports indicating that families of deceased detainees and prisoners are prevented from claiming their bodies.

The experts called on China to promptly respond to the allegations of ‘organ harvesting’ and to allow independent monitoring by international human rights mechanisms, according to the OHCHR.