Substantial numbers of prisoners of conscience in China have had their organs harvested was the unanimous finding made by an independent people’s tribunal in England.
Speaking after three days of hearings and evaluating evidence, former English judge Sir Geoffrey Nice QC said that the China Tribunal’s interim judgment was one beyond reasonable doubt.
“We, the tribunal members, are all certain, unanimously, beyond reasonable doubt, that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time, involving a very substantial number of victims… by state organized or approved organizations or individuals,” said Mr. Nice during his closing statement given in central London on December 10.
The judgment, Mr. Nice said, was driven by the evidence presented to the tribunal that showed clear certainty that organ harvesting in China has been committed on a very large scale over a long period of time.
The tribunal heard testimonies from some 30 witnesses and experts that included refugees, former inmates of Chinese prisons, doctors, and investigators. One of those who gave testimony was Dr. Zhiyuan Wang. See him featured in a documentary.
Given that it was a draft judgment, Mr. Nice said that they will deliver a final judgment in the northern spring next year. He said that the tribunal remains open to further witness testimonies and evidence, as well as any input over the matter from the Chinese government.
The interim judgment has been made in the hope that it could “save innocents from harm,” Mr. Nice said.
“We can properly remind ourselves of past atrocities where states sought destruction of parts of their communities and we can remind ourselves of the part played in those events as they unfolded when others were silent,” he said.
Mr. Nice led the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević, former president of Serbia, at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia between 1998-2006.
Watch Mr. Nice’s closing remarks in this video.
The International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC) established the tribunal to investigate if any criminal offenses have been committed by state or state-approved organizations in China concerning forced organ harvesting.
ETAC is a coalition of lawyers, academics, ethicists, medical professionals, researchers, and human rights advocates dedicated to ending forced organ harvesting in China.
A member of the coalition is Heather Draper, a Professor of Bioethics at the University of Warwick. Professor Draper said that the tribunal was charged dispassionately to decide whether any criminal offenses contrary to international law have been committed in China’s transplantation practices.
“It is an independent process, with tribunal members recognized on the international stage to be of the highest integrity, and headed by Sir Geoffrey who has great human rights expertise. It is, therefore, an important process for all members of the international transplant community,” said Professor Draper in a statement.
“Many have refused thus far to engage with the evidence of grossly unethical practice in China prepared by ETAC and others,” she said. “Yet, it is impossible for bioethicists, practitioners, and recipients to defend organ transplantation as a practice while ignoring this evidence.”
Watch this End Transplant Abuse video on some of the evidence collected on organ harvesting.
Also on ETAC’s International Advisory Committee are David Kilgour, former Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, and human rights lawyer Dr. David Matas, who co-authored a report that estimated there are 60,000-100,000 organ transplants performed annually in China.
The source of the organs, the report said, came from Falun Gong practitioners held in prisons and killed on demand. Other prisoners of conscience — Tibetans, Uyghurs, and House Christians — have also been targeted by the communists as a source of bodily organs, only to a lesser extent, their report said.
All three men have in the past been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work investigating organ harvesting in China.
In June 2016, a U.S. House of Representatives resolution was unanimously passed that urged the Chinese government to stop harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience, and end the persecution against Falun Gong.
The European Parliament passed a similar resolution in 2013. Watch a report on that.