Forced organ-harvesting of Christian prisoners in China needs to stop immediately, Canadian lawyers say

Lawmakers should pass a motion urging China to immediately put a stop on the alleged forced organ-harvesting of Christian prisoners, according to two Canadian lawyers who brought the claims to Australia's Parliament House.

(Reuters/Keith Bedford)Members of a surgical team implant a donated harvested kidney to transplant into patient Adam Abernathy as part of a five-way organ transplant swap in New York, August 1, 2012.

On Monday, human rights lawyer David Matas and former prosecutor David Kilgour came to Australia's House of Parliament claiming to have evidence of China performing between 60,000 and 100,000 organ transplants every year. The Canadian lawyers say the only "plausible explanation" for the source of the harvested organs is the killing of Christians, Muslim Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhist, and Falun Gong practitioners, The Associated Press (AP) relays.

However, Matas and Kilgour did not present proof of the alleged organ sourcing. This is not the first time that such claims have been made, but the opacity of China's legal system does not allow much room for independent verification of the said issue.

China, on the other hand, has put an end to the harvesting of organs from prisoners in transplant procedures starting last year. However, AP notes that the extent to which the ban is implemented cannot be confirmed.

Huang Jiefu, the director of the China Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, said China is striving hard to increase its transparency in light of the alleged illegal organ trade in the country. He assured the media during a conference on organ donation that all of the organ donations in their system are voluntary, Reuters reports.

"Since 2015, I can guarantee that in our system 100 percent are voluntary citizen donors," said Huang. "Because China is a big country with 1.3 billion people and regional development is uneven, occasional legal violations are unavoidable ... But the Chinese government has zero tolerance for this kind of legal violation."

The World Health Organization (WHO) says China conducted around 11,000 organ transplants in 2015. The Chinese government has also repeatedly denied accusations of forced organ-harvesting from prisoners. In 2007, Beijing prohibited transplants from living donors except for blood relatives, spouses, or adopted family members as part of an effort to put a stop to the illegal organ trade in the country.