Senate bill targeting organ harvesters could bar Chinese officials from Canada

A bill making its way through Canada’s Senate to bar anyone involved with organ harvesting from entering the country could make China’s Communist Party officials inadmissible to Canada.

Bill S-204 makes it a criminal offence to do “anything in connection with the removal of an organ from the body of another person on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with the person who removes the organ, knowing that the person from whom it was removed or a person lawfully authorized to consent on behalf of the person from whom it was removed did not give informed consent to the removal, or being reckless as to whether or not such consent was given.”[1]

The bill, introduced by Conservative Senator Salma Ataullahjan, makes it an offence to engage in organ harvesting anywhere in the world, and renders foreign nationals and permanent residents who’ve engaged in the practice inadmissible to Canada.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), which received the support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government today, also makes it an offence to acquire an organ obtained without informed consent.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis introduced a petition urging the government “to move quickly on the proposed legislation so as to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to prohibit Canadians from travelling abroad to acquire human organs removed without consent or as a result of a financial transaction and to render inadmissible to Canada any and all permanent residents or foreign nationals who have participated in this abhorrent trade in human organs.”[2]

“It’s noted as well that world health officials have actually praised China’s organ transplant regime despite problems we know of dealing with organ harvesting and trafficking,” the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan said.

Genuis introduced a similar motion in the House of Commons which automatically died before the second reading when the 42nd Parliament was dissolved on September 11, 2019.

“This bill seeks to combat the scourge of forced organ harvesting, when organs are taken from people against their will, often gruesomely and without anaesthetic and while a person is still living, and often when the individual’s only so-called crime is engaging in a particular religious or spiritual practice,” Genuis said. “As the government seeks to deepen Canada’s relationship with China, this bill is needed now more than ever. This bill would make it a criminal offence for a person to acquire an organ that they know or ought to know was acquired without consent.”

An independent investigation by Canadian lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour concluded in 2006 that the Chinese government was harvesting organs of political prisoners[3]

“Denial in the face of such compelling evidence which has the official sanction of the Government is no longer an option,” Kilgour, who had previously served as the MP for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, wrote to the Canadian ambassador in China in 2008. “The only option which remains is ending this horrible crime.”

Last year, the independent China Tribunal investigating the organ harvesting reported to the United Nations Human Rights Council that the tribunal’s members “are certain – unanimously, and sure 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.”[4]

The China Tribunal concluded that the the Chinese government treats Uyghurs, the Muslim minority ethnic group who live Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China, as an “organ bank”.

David Lametti, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today pledged to “work with all parties” to move the legislation forward.

“Combatting human organ trafficking is a complex issue that involves both legislative and policy responses,” Lametti added. “In Canada, organ transplantation and donation is governed by a comprehensive legislative framework at both the federal and provincial/territorial level, encompassing health and criminal law.”

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