Belgium Passes Law to Penalize Medical Tourism for Organ Transplants
On April 25, Belgium’s primary legislative body passed a new bill that would punish all parties involved in the buying and selling of human organs for commercial purposes. The regulations stipulate that the organ seller and recipient, as well as any middlemen, doctors who were consulted, or other medical workers who participated in the sale of organs for profit, will be punished under the law.
In cases where the transplant procedure resulted in the death of the donor, those involved face up to 20 years imprisonment and a 1.2 million euro fine. If an organized criminal group is involved in such trade, all individuals in the group can be punished under the law.
All Belgian citizens will be prohibited from purchasing organs, regardless of where the transaction took place, effectively banning medical tourism for organ transplants.
The bill, introduced by Representatives Valerie Van Peel and Vincent Van Peteghem, will next move to the Senate, after which the King will sign it into law.
Canadian MPs Give Unanimous Support to Bill Combatting International Organ Trafficking
On April 30, 2019, Canadian members of Parliament unanimously gave their final approval to Bill S-240 which makes it illegal for Canadians to get organs abroad without the consent of the donor and denies admission into Canada to those involved in forced organ harvesting anywhere in the world. The bill, which enjoys support from all parties as well as both chambers of Parliament, will now go back to the Senate for a vote on amendments from the lower house before it can be signed into law.
Winnipeg-based international human rights lawyer David Matas told Canadian lawmakers that countries, such as Israel and Taiwan, that have enacted similar legislation have seen dramatic improvements in preventing their citizens from getting organs in China. Other countries that have passed similar legislation into law include Spain, Italy, and Norway.
MP Garnett Genuis, sponsor of Bill S-240 in the House of Commons, said, “These provisions don’t solve the whole issue, and there is more work to be done, but it formally puts Canada on the right side of this and ends any possibility of Canadian involvement.” He also voiced his hope that the bill will pass in this session of Parliament “so that we can look our children in the eyes and tell them that we didn’t just talk about ideas, but we actually got good things done.”
Australian State MP Calls on Victoria to Crack Down on Human Organ Trafficking
In February 2019, Bernie Finn, member of the Victorian Parliament in Australia, called on the attorney general to cooperate with the federal government to stop the practice of human organ trafficking, citing a report by the Human Rights Sub-Committee for the inquiry into human organ trafficking and organ transplant tourism. The , entitled “Compassion, Not Commerce: An inquiry into human organ trafficking and organ transplant tourism,” was released Dec. 3, 2018. In his speech to Parliament, Finn said that three of the report’s twelve recommendations could be applied in Victoria.
- Recommendation 5 requests mandatory reporting protocols by medical doctors who care for patients suspected to have received a commercial transplant.
- Recommendation 6 asks the Australian Government to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs and create legislation against the illegal removal of human organs from living or deceased donors.
- Recommendation 12 recommends the Australian Government ensure that those importing human tissue into Australia for commercial purposes produce verifiable documentation of the consent of the donor or their next-of-kin.
Czech Lawmakers Finalizing Draft Amendment to Organ Transplant Law
A new amendment to existing organ transplant law was first proposed by Czech Senator Marek Hilser and MP Mikulas Peksa in response to a public Senate hearing on November 19, 2018 about forced organ harvesting from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners in China for use in transplantation surgeries.
On March 20, the Czech Senate passed a resolution calling on “the Chinese regime to stop its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Tibetans, and Uyghurs; to release all prisoners of conscience; and to abide by international human rights conventions.”
The new law amendment, which has taken six months to prepare, will allow the prosecution of persons who obtain organs transplanted from involuntary donors and identify those countries, particularly China, with unethical organ transplantation practices.
Senator Hilser is doing more to educate the public. On May 28, he held a debate about China and foreign policy and hosted a showing of Human Harvest, an award-winning documentary about human organ trafficking in China.