China to award death penalty for organ trafficking

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BEIJING - People convicted of organ trafficking in China may get the death penalty under a draft law amendment being reviewed by the top legislature, a media report said Thursday.

The amendment, submitted 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, the China Daily reported.

Under Chinese 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.

Previously, 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, the report said.

Qin Xiyan, an NPC deputy and a 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 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily that it is necessary to include 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 organs for a small amount of money. Although it might be voluntary, they are not aware of the health risks,” Liu said.

If the latest draft amendment to the criminal law is passed at the bimonthly meeting of the NPC Standing Committee, which ends Friday, it will come into force May 1.

About 10,000 organ transplants are carried out each year in China. 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, a Beijing-based daily said.

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