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International convention needed to combat organ trafficking: report

[JURIST] An international convention is needed to protect the victims of organ, tissue, and cell (OTC) trafficking, according to a new report [text, PDF; press release] released Tuesday by the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] and the UN. The report calls for a separate OTC convention in addition to the convention against human trafficking, drawing a distinction between OTC trafficking and trafficking in humans for the removal of organs. At a press conference [press release], COE Director of Cooperation Marja Ruotanen said, "[w]e have legislation and definitions covering the trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal, but the study points out that there is a legal vacuum for the traffic in organs, tissues and cells." The report estimates that 10-15 percent of kidney transplants worldwide come from trafficked organs. The authors of the report hope to introduce a bill to the UN General Assembly on the topic.

OTC trafficking has become a widespread problem throughout the world. In August, the Chinese vice-minister of health estimated that 65 percent of organ transplants in China have their origin in executed prisoners [JURIST report]. Last October, Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic and Albanian state prosecutor Ina Rama met to discuss allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo, but Albania refused to initiate an investigation [JURIST reports]. Both Human Rights Watch and the Council of Europe have completed reports into the allegations [JURIST reports], urging further investigation.

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