China has been accused of forced organ harvesting since 2000. Initially China was charged with forcibly removing the organs of death row prisoners. China later claimed that death row prisoners consented to donating their organs to the State to redeem themselves for the crimes they had committed against the State, a practice China claimed to have stopped in January 2015. However, the explosion of organ transplant activities in China from 2000 together with reports of thousands of transplant tourists going to China to purchase organs, suggests a larger supply of organs than could be sourced from executed criminals alone. The scale of the Chinese transplant industry, together with other evidence, points to the possibility that China is involved in forced organ harvesting and selling for profit organs from prisoners of conscience.
National and international organisations and government bodies have reported on the issue of forced organ harvesting in the People’s Republic of China. Based on multiple sources of information, it has been alleged that prisoners of conscience have been killed ‘to order’ for the purposes of extracting and using their organs for profitable transplantation surgery. Victims include members of groups arbitrarily detained by the government for political reasons (primarily people who practice Falun Gong but also Tibetans, Uyghurs and House Christians). Parliamentary hearings in several countries have heard evidence on the issue, and some have passed legislation in response. To date however, there has been no investigation into to what if any crimes have been committed by such forced organ harvesting by the Chinese State or state-approved bodies. It is this question of criminal liability that this tribunal will address.