A senior government official has admitted that forced organ harvesting from executed prisoners may still be occurring in China, sparking calls for international inspections in the country.
Huang Jiefu, a former deputy health minister who oversees China’s transplantation scheme, made the announcement earlier this week at a controversial Vatican conference on illegal organ trafficking.
“There is zero tolerance [of forced harvesting]” Mr. Jiefu told reporters at the conference. “However, China is a big country with a 1.3 billion population so I am sure, definitely, there is some violation of the law”.
Experts at the Rome conference were sceptical of China’s efforts to end forced organ harvesting, and Dr. Jacob Lavee, president of Israel's transplant society, insisted that the World Health Organisation be allowed to conduct surprise inspections and interview donor relatives in China.
"As long as there is no accountability for what took place ... there can be no guarantee for ethical reform," he told the conference.
He was joined by Dr. Gabriel Danilovitch, from the UCLA Medical Center, who challenged the Chinese delegation to declare straight out if prisoner organs were no longer used.
Nicholas Bequelin, the east Asia director for Amnesty International, told The Guardian that forced organ harvesting was still taking place in China.
“They haven’t stopped the practice and won’t stop. They have a need for organ transplants that far outpace the availability of organs,” Bequelin said.
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