Universal Declaration Against Organ Harvesting Referenced in UK House of Lords

In a February 4, 2022 debate on the floor of the House of Lords in London, which coincided with the first day of the Winter Olympics, Lord Philip Hunt of Kings Heath made multiple references to the Universal Declaration on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting (UDCPFOH). The UDCPFOH was initiated in the fall of 2021 by a coalition of NGOs including DAFOH. During the debate, Lord Hunt, who himself is an initial co-signatory to the UDCPFOH, cited Article 3(2), which reads, “The killing of vulnerable prisoners for the purpose of harvesting and selling their organs for transplant is an egregious and intolerable violation of the fundamental right to life.”

Lord Hunt has proposed two amendments to the Human Tissues Act of 2004, which he says “seek to prevent UK citizens’ complicity in forced organ harvesting by amending the Human Tissue Act to ensure that UK citizens cannot travel to countries such as China for organ transplantation and to put a stop to the dreadful travelling circus of body exhibitions that sources deceased bodies from China.”

An ardent supporter of efforts to end China’s forced organ harvesting crimes against humanity, Lord Hunt explained to his fellow parliamentarians the connection between the mass killings of Falun Gong practitioners in China and the plastinated bodies exhibit touring the world and reviewed the evidence of forced organ harvesting included in the findings of the China Tribunal in 2020, the Uyghur Tribunal in 2021, and a letter sent to China from 12 UN Special Rapporteurs in June.

In addition to Lord Hunt, 11 other members of the UK House of Lords are co-signatories of the UDCPFOH including Lord Alderdice, Lord David Alton, Lord Bishop of St. Albans, Baronness Caroline Cox, Lord Hamilton, Lord Richard Harries, Lord Hylton, Baroness Ruth, Lord Ian McColl, Lord Ranbir Singh Suri, and Baroness Janet Whitaker.

“We cannot stand by and do nothing,” said Lord Hunt who closed his remarks by citing Article 4 of the UDCPFOH that “All governments shall combat and prevent forced organ harvesting by providing for the criminalisation of certain acts and facilitate the criminal prosecution of forced organ harvesting both at the national and international levels.”

The UK bill, “would prohibit a UK citizen from travelling outside the UK and receiving any controlled material for the purpose of organ transplantation when the organ donor or the organ donor’s next of kin had not provided free, informed and specific consent” or when the donor or a third party receives financial gain or other advantage. Additionally, the bill would require annual reporting of UK citizens who receive transplants abroad, and it would impose UK cadaver consent requirements on any “imported bodies on display.”

Lord Hunt was a featured speaker at the World Summit on Combating and Preventing Forced Organ Harvesting organized by DAFOH and a coalition of NGOs in September 2021 and also participated in our International Human Rights Day webinar, Humankind at a Crossroads: Universal Human Rights versus Commercialized Forced Organ Harvesting from Living People.