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US House panel questions China organ transplants from executed inmates

The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs [official website] on Wednesday held a hearing [materials] to discuss the Chinese government's practice of harvesting organs from executed inmates. The hearing included testimony by three witnesses supporting allegations that the government has deliberately executed political prisoners for the purpose of transplanting their organs. Representative Chris Smith [official website] said during the hearing that if the allegations were true, the Chinese government is guilty of serious human rights violations. A prepared statement [text, PDF] by witness Dr. Damon Noto noted that there is a correlation between Chinese persecution of political dissidents and dramatic increases in organ transplants. He urged the committee to adopt a resolution condemning the Chinese government and to encourage the US government to launch a further investigation into the matter. The Chinese government said in March that it would work to end organ donations from executed prisoners [JURIST report] in the next five years. While the government acknowledges that the organ donation takes place, it denies that organ transplants are a determining factor in executions.

In 2009, it was reported that 65 percent of China's organ donations [JURIST report] came from executed prisoners. China pledged in 2007 at a World Medical Association [profession website] meeting to end the practice [JURIST report] of harvesting prisoners' organs, except for donations to relatives. This decision came after criticism by the British Transplantation Society [advocacy website], which accused China [JURIST report] of selling organs harvested from executed prisoners. China denied these and other allegations [JURIST report], saying that all donors must give consent before their organs are used.

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