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Organ traffickers may get death penalty

Discussion in 'JF Doctor' started by Mallaba, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Mallaba

    Mallaba JF-Expert Member

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    BEIJING - Criminals convicted of forcefully removing organs will be eligible for the death penalty under a draft law amendment being reviewed by the top legislature.
    The amendment, submitted on Wednesday to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for a third reading, stipulates that criminals convicted of "forced organ removal, forced organ donation or organ removal from juveniles" could face punishment for homicide.

    Under Article 232 of the Criminal Law, a person found guilty of homicide faces either a death sentence, life imprisonment or a fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years.
    However, in the draft submitted for a second reading, reviewed by legislators in December 2010, criminals involved in the illegal organ trade could only be charged with the crime of intentional bodily harm (IBH).
    According to Article 234, a criminal convicted of IBH can be sentenced to either a jail term of no more than three years, criminal detention or public surveillance. In the case of severe bodily injury, the culprit shall be sentenced to a jail term of not less than three years and no more than 10 years.
    Only when the criminal causes death(s) or "severe bodily injury resulting in severe deformity by especially cruel means", can he be sentenced to jail terms of not less than 10 years, life imprisonment or death, Article 234 says.
    Qin Xiyan, an NPC deputy and a Hunan-based lawyer, said forced organ removal should fall under the category of intentional killing because it may result in death.
    Liu Renwen, a researcher at the Institute of Law under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily on Wednesday that it is necessary to include the illegal organ trade in the Criminal Law.
    He said the black market in the trade has been booming "both inside and outside the country" in recent years.
    "Some poor people sell their own organs for a small amount of money. Although it might be voluntary, they are not aware of the health risks," Liu said. "What's more, the illegal organ trade is harmful to society as a whole."
    The amendment will help deter potential criminals, as it shows the government's determination to crack down on the illegal trade, Liu said.
    Until recently, criminals convicted of forced organ removal were sentenced on a charge of illegal business operation, since there is no specific offence covering the act in the Criminal Law. Last August, the crime of forced organ removal was included in the first draft of an amendment to the Criminal Law for legislative review.
    Last September, Beijing's Haidian district people's court heard the country's first case concerning illegal sales of human organs, in which two criminals were sentenced to four years in jail and were each fined 100,000 yuan ($15,200) for illegal business operation.
    In Beijing earlier this month, 31-year-old Liu Yunlu from Hebei province and 25-year-old Dong Binggang from Shaanxi were charged with conducting an illegal business operation for trafficking in human organs.
    About 10,000 organ transplants are carried out each year on the Chinese mainland. It is estimated that around 1.3 million people are waiting for a transplant.
    The huge gap between supply and demand has led to the emergence of the illegal organ trade, the Beijing-based Procuratorial Daily reported.
    To better manage organ donation and prevent illegal trafficking, Qin suggested punishing hospitals and doctors who deal with traffickers.
    If the latest draft amendment to the Criminal Law is passed at the bimonthly meeting of the NPC Standing Committee, which will last until Friday, it will come into force on May 1.
    Cao Yin contributed to this story.
     
  2. Mallaba

    Mallaba JF-Expert Member

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    Human organ trafficking trial under way



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    Liu Yunlu (left) and Dong Binggang appear in Beijing Xicheng District People's Court on Thursday to answer charges in connection with their alleged involvement in the traffi cking of human organs for transplant operations. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY​
    BEIJING - Two men appeared in a city courtroom on Thursday to face charges in connection with their alleged involvement in the trafficking of human organs. ​

    The pair, 31-year-old Liu Yunlu, an unemployed man from Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, and 25-year-old Dong Binggang, a farmer from Shaanxi province, are charged with conducting an illegal business operation.
    They were charged with that offence because there is currently no specific offence aimed at human organ traffickers, but that is expected to change in the future.
    Zhang Wenxiu, a prosecutor from Xicheng procuratorate, told Xicheng District People's Court that Liu, driven by the lure of huge potential profits, became a human organ trafficker in August 2008.
    Zhang said Liu recruited potential donors and matched them with people in need of transplants via an Internet instant messaging service, online forums and blogs.
    The court was told that, as a broker, Liu was also responsible for forging the necessary documentation.
    Zhang said Dong started out as an organ donor himself when he was in dire need of money to save his ailing mother.
    She said that in January 2009, Liu arranged for Dong to have an operation at a Beijing hospital where he had a kidney removed that was sold to a patient with kidney failure.
    The court heard that the patient paid them 150,000 yuan ($22,800), of which Dong got 30,000 yuan.
    She said the operation cost 40,000 yuan and the rest of the money was shared between Liu and another trafficker.
    The prosecutor said that during the same month, Liu brokered another trade, in Tianjin, that involved 200,000 yuan.
    She told the court that Dong became an organ trafficker himself when he and Liu helped find another person willing to sell an organ to a patient who needed a liver transplant at a hospital in Changsha, capital of Hunan province.
    On that occasion, 118,000 yuan allegedly changed hands.
    The prosecutor told the court that the pair recruited more than 20 people who were willing to sell their organs between March and May of 2009. They found the potential donors through online postings and housed the men in two rented apartments in Shijiazhuang.
    Liu insisted in court that would-be donors were well looked after.
    "They lived on the floor in the apartments, and for each meal, they had meat and vegetables," he said. "I also bought four computers for them to use.
    "They were free during the daytime and could wander around the residential area or stay at home to use the computers."
    He said most of the men were desperately in need of money and all chose to participate and could have left at any time.
    Police arrested Liu in May 2010 in the Daxing district of Beijing. Dong was arrested in the capital's Haidian district in May 2009.
    The court will deliver a verdict at a later date.
    The sale of human organs was banned in China in May 2007. Under the law, the only people who can donate human organs are the family members of patients. In addition, organs can be removed from suitable corpses and executed prisoners if consent forms are signed in advance.
    According to statistics released by the Ministry of Health, there are 1.5 million patients in the country waiting for an organ transplant each year. Annually, there are only 10,000 such transplants.
    Wang Wenkui, a judge with No 2 Criminal Court in Xicheng, told China Daily that human organ trafficking is not yet a specific offence, meaning the suspects could only be charged with conducting an illegal business operation.
    Tang Hongxin, a Beijing-based criminal lawyer, said on Thursday that a more specific charge is needed.
    "The charge, conducting an illegal business operation, is, to some extent, too wide to properly punish the criminals, which is a loophole in our criminal law.
    "The sale of organs transgresses morality but has a profitable market in China these days," he said.
    The latest draft amendment of the Criminal Law, which is now under discussion at the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, may include a specific provision on human organ trafficking.
    Cao Yin contributed to this story.
    China Daily
     
  3. Mallaba

    Mallaba JF-Expert Member

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    Organ donor regulations to be revised

    Red Cross to play greater role, non-cash compensation considered
    BEIJING - The amendment of China's organ transplant regulations is being prepared and may be out in March after revision, said Vice-Health Minister Huang Jiefu.
    "It will give legal footing to the Red Cross Society of China to set up and run China's organ donation system," he told China Daily.
    The organ transplant regulations that the amendment will update have been in use since 2007.
    "With the amendment, China will be a step closer to building up a national organ donation system, which is being run as a pilot project in 11 provinces and regions now, and thus ensure the sustainable and healthy development of organ transplants and save more lives," he said.
    The Red Cross Society's responsibilities will include encouraging posthumous voluntary organ donations, establishing a list of would-be donors and drawing up registers of people waiting for a suitable donated organ.
    The long-awaited system will be available to everyone in China (excluding prisoners) wanting to donate their organs after their death in the hope of saving lives.
    Currently, about 10,000 organ transplants are carried out each year on the Chinese mainland. It is estimated that around 1.3 million people are waiting for a transplant.
    However, there had been a lack of a State-level organ donor system before a trial project was launched in March 2010. Currently, organ donations have come mainly from volunteers and executed
    prisoners with written consent either from themselves or family members. The process has been put under strict scrutiny from the judicial department, according to the Ministry of Health.
    "An ethically proper source of organs for China's transplants that is sustainable and healthy would benefit more patients," Huang said.
    He said a trial project run by the Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Health, which was started last March in 11 regions, has led to 30 free and voluntary organ donations.
    "As the pilot gradually expands nationwide, more people will be willing to donate in China."
    He said willing organ donors, who die in traffic accidents or because of conditions such as a stroke will be the most suitable.
    Huang stressed that a compensatory aid program for organ donations will also be necessary and he suggested that donors' medical bills and burial fees should be covered and a tax deduction offered, rather than a fixed cash sum paid.
    Luo Gangqiang, a division director in charge of organ donation work with the Red Cross Society in Wuhan - one of the 11 trial regions - said cash compensation in some areas has prompted potential donors to shop around when deciding whether to donate.
    "Few details concerning the system have been fixed so far," he told China Daily.
    Luo noted that his region is currently offering donors 10,000 yuan ($1,500) in compensation, which is less than the amount on offer in Shenzhen, another area participating in the pilot project.
    He said the money is mainly from hospitals receiving the organs.
    In other words, "it's finally from the recipients", he said.
    Many of the pilot areas are trying to set up special funds mainly to compensate donors in various forms, according to Luo.
    "Donations from transplant hospitals, recipients, corporations and the general public are welcome."
    The money will also be used to support the work of coordinators, mainly nurses working in ICUs, he noted.
    Luo also pointed out a pressing need for brain death legislation to be brought in to help their work. Worldwide more than 90 countries take brain death as the diagnostic criterion to declare death.
    Given the limited understanding among the public and even some medical workers about when brain death happens and when cardiac arrest happens coupled with various social and cultural barriers to removing organs, "legislation on brain death won't come shortly", Huang said.
    For the official standard, "we should advise cardiac death at present as a death standard for donations", he said.
    But he also suggested that cardiac death and brain death could coexist and that Chinese people could be allowed to choose which one they want as the criterion for their own donations, based on individual circumstances and free will.
    "The health ministry will promote brain death criterion at the appropriate time, when people can understand concepts such as brain death, euthanasia, and vegetative states," he said.
    Meanwhile, efforts are under way including organizing training, publishing technical diagnostic criteria and operational specifications on brain death among doctors to enhance their awareness.
    So far, China has an expert team of more than 100 people capable of handling brain death related issues, Huang noted.
    China Daily
     
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