Canada’s Senate unanimously approved a bill intended to help combat international organ trafficking on May 6. Bill S-204 will now go on to the House of Commons for deliberation by MPs before it can be passed into law.
“[Organ trafficking] is a violation of the principles of equity, justice, and respect for human dignity. Let us be global leaders in the battle against organ trafficking,” Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, the sponsor of the bill, told the Senate on May 6.
“This piece of legislation has been the culmination of over 12 years of parliamentary work on the pressing issue of organ trafficking,” Ataullahjan said, referring to previous legislation on the issue in past parliamentary sessions that didn’t get passed into law before those sessions ended due to upcoming elections.
Rising in the Senate to support the proposed legislation, Sen. David Richards said “the time has come to pass this bill.”
“We have often been asked in this world to fight against the darkness that threatens us, to fight the good fight. In this chamber over the last four years, I have seen this happen. I believe that Bill S-204 and Senator Ataullahjan are standard-bearers in such a battle, and I ask for your support,” Richards said.
Bill S-204 makes it illegal for Canadians to get organs abroad without the consent of the donor, and makes people involved in forced organ harvesting inadmissible to Canada.
During a Senate committee studying the bill on April 19, Ataullahjan said such legislation is needed to help curb the organ trafficking happening in many places in the world, including in Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, and North Africa, among others.
Testifying before the committee, former MP and secretary of state for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour noted that there is only one country where it’s the government that is involved in forcibly taking organs from prisoners of consciences, and that is China.
“China is the only country in the world … where it’s run by the government and not in some back alley by unscrupulous people,” he said.
Kilgour and Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas first investigated reports of China’s organ harvesting of Falun Gong adherents in 2006, and came to the conclusion that the persecuted group is being targeted by the Chinese regime on a large scale for organ removal to sell to domestic and international buyers. The organs are taken while the victims are alive, so they’re kept fresh, and the victims die in the process.
The Chinese regime’s state-sanctioned organ harvesting has since expanded to claim other persecuted groups on a large scale, including the Uyghur Muslims, investigators have said.
“It’s high time that Canada joined about 10 other countries that have enacted legislation on this,” Kilgour said.