Trafficking for Organ Trade
While it is commonly believed that trafficking only takes places for commercial sexual exploitation or for forced labour, trafficking in fact takes many forms such as trafficking for forced marriage and trafficking for organ trade among others.
Trafficking in organs is a crime that occurs in three broad categories. Firstly, there are cases where traffickers force or deceive the victims into giving up an organ. Secondly, there are cases where victims formally or informally agree to sell an organ and are cheated because they are not paid for the organ or are paid less than the promised price. Thirdly, vulnerable persons are treated for an ailment, which may or may not exist and thereupon organs are removed without the victim's knowledge. The vulnerable categories of persons include migrants, especially migrant workers, homeless persons, illiterate persons, etc. It is known that trafficking for organ trade could occur with persons of any age. Organs which are commonly traded are kidneys, liver and the like; any organ which can be removed and used, could be the subject of such illegal trade.
Trafficking in organ trade is an organized crime, involving a host of offenders. The recruiter who identifies the vulnerable person, the transporter, the staff of the hospital/ clinic and other medical centres, the medical professionals, the middlemen and contractors, the buyers, the banks where organs are stored are all involved in the racket. It is a fact that the entire racket is rarely exposed and therefore, the dimensions are yet to be appropriately fathomed.
Several International standards are in place on trafficking for organ trade:
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons
includes "organ removal" and its subsequent sale as an end purpose of trafficking. Article 3 of the UN Trafficking Protocol that defines trafficking in persons, clearly includes trafficking for the purpose of removal of organs.
Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000) to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
This protocol states that the sale of children for the purpose of transferring their organs for profit should be a criminal offence.
World Health Organization (WHO)
The Guiding Principles on Human Organ Transplantation (1991) of WHO state that the commercialization of human organs is 'a violation of human rights and human dignity'.
d. An Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine Concerning Transplantation of Organs and Tissues of Human Origin (2002) prohibits organ and tissue trafficking, deriving a financial gain or comparative advantage from the human body and its parts and calls on States to provide appropriate sanctions for such trafficking.
The response to trafficking in organ trade has more or less been lacklusture. Considering the serious health implications and the severe human rights violations of the vulnerable victims, it is essential that this issue gets the desired attention. This requires several steps including the following:
- Appropriate laws in sync with the UN Protocols and principles.
- Stringent law enforcement against all those involved.
- Training and orientation of the law enforcement agencies as well as the medical staff who are likely to be drawn into the commission of the offence, especially for want of the dimensions of the crime.
- Awareness generation of the vulnerable sections.
- Public awareness posters and display boards, etc. to be made mandatory at the health centres, where health care is ordinarily provided.
Human Trafficking and other issues