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Ukrainian MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj introduces bill to combat underground trade in human organs and body parts

February 08, 2008

Ottawa – Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre) introduced Bill C-500, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking and transplanting human organs and other body parts), a Private Member’s Bill that would address the trafficking of human organs and other body parts. The introduction of this bill was in part motivated by news reports Wrzesnewskyj read from many parts of the world, including reports involving the disappearance of children from Ukrainian orphanages. Several years ago, reports appeared stating that theses orphaned children were being taken and sacrificed so that their organs could be harvested for sale in the underground market.

Wrzesnewskyj’s Bill C-500 addresses the exploitation of the vulnerable in developing countries or incarcerated by totalitarian regimes whose healthy organs are purchased or extracted through coercion and sold for use by the wealthy. This comprehensive piece of legislation embraces a number of principles:

  1. it makes it illegal to obtain organs or body parts from unwilling donors or as part of a financial transaction;
  2. it establishes a list of individuals barred from Canada due to their involvement in this trade;
  3. it places the onus on those involved in this industry and recipients of organs to certify that the organ or body parts have been legally obtained;
  4. as in the case of child sex tourism, this legislation embraces extraterritoriality, making such a crime chargeable in Canada notwithstanding the fact that it may have occurred outside of our jurisdiction;
  5. it compels the Canadian government to establish a list of Canadians who have been legal recipients of organs or body parts;
  6. it compels medical practitioners to report patients to the agency that maintains this list to verify the legality of organ or body part transfers, and
  7. it provides for consequences to those engaged in this trafficking equal to the horror of the crime they have been involved in.

“This horrific underground industry in human organs and body parts is the consequence of three global trends coinciding during the last decade: first, the development of medical technology allowing the inexpensive transplantation of virtually any body organ; second, the immense and increasing global disparities in incomes; and finally, easy and accessible travel to any part of the globe. Recent articles about the million dollar business of ‘Doctor Horror’ involved in the illegal harvesting of kidneys of a possible 500 poor labourers in New Delhi, India, and his Canadian connections, as well as the spotlight placed on the illegal harvesting of organs of prisoners of conscience in China in the 2007 Matas-Kilgour report entitled Bloody Harvest underscore the urgent need to address this modern horror. By enacting this legislation Canada will become an international leader in combating the sinister underground trade in human organs and body parts,” stated Wrzesnewskyj.

The first part of Wrzesnewskyj’s bill makes it an indictable offence with a minimum sentence of five years to a maximum of life imprisonment for anyone involved in the removal of human organs or body parts without the donor’s consent, or who participates in the sale or purchase of human organs or body parts. The second part of the bill establishes a certification program and registration process to ensure that organs are donated and that no money transactions occurred for the procurement of an organ, either in Canada or abroad.

For further information contact: Borys Wrzesnewskyj, M.P. (613) 947-5000

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