Shortage of organs leading to increased human trafficking, warns UN expert

posted in: Africa

Photo: Michigan State University Today


New York, US – The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, has warned that a growing number of people are exploited and compelled by need or by force to provide organs for transplantation to people within their own countries or abroad.

“The root cause of trafficking in persons for the removal of organs is an acute shortage of organs for transplantation worldwide, and a mismatch between the growing demand for organ transplants and the strict limits set on available supplies,” Ms. Ezeilo said in her annual report to the UN General Assembly.

A statement on the report, obtained by PANA in New York on Saturday, stated that the Special Rapporteur also stressed that available information on trafficking in persons for the removal of organs was incomplete and often unverified.

According to her: “This lack of information mainly results from the clandestine nature of the trafficking and from the fact that victims have little opportunities and incentives to denounce such violations.”

“Recipients are generally wealthy while victims are often poor, unemployed and with low levels of education. They can be easily deceived about the nature of the transaction and its potential impact,” she noted.

She disclosed that case studies examined by her showed that victims, particularly those from Eastern Europe, South America and Asia, are lured into selling their organs on the promise of large amounts of money that are almost never paid in full.

Ms. Ezeilo said: “The study also shows that post-operative medical care offered to the victims is often inadequate, while many suffer from social exclusion and face direct threats aimed at silencing them.”

The UN expert drew especial attention to the weaknesses in the laws and policies on trafficking in persons for the purpose of organ removal, including at the international level.

“Inadequate laws not only prevent strong national responses, they also inhibit international cooperation,” she warned.

She also stressed that States should increase their efforts to meet their international obligation to stop all forms of trafficking in persons, including for the purpose of organ removal.

“They should review their laws and strengthen their policies to prevent violations, prosecute offenders and protect and assist victims and any appropriate response needs to adopt a victim-focused approach,” the Special Rapporteur insisted.

Ms. Ezeilo also called on States to prohibit, absolutely and unconditionally, the removal of organs from prisoners, while urging medical personnel to notify cases or potential cases of trafficking in persons for removal of organ with appropriate attention to issues of confidentiality and risks.

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