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BMA 'gravely concerned' over findings of China Tribunal on organ harvesting

Responding to the publication of the final judgment of the Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China (the China Tribunal),1 Dr John Chisholm, BMA medical ethics committee chair, said: 

“We are gravely concerned by the judgment delivered today by the Tribunal, in which its members say they are ‘certain – unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt – that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practised for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims’.

“The practice of forced organ harvesting represents a gross and continuing violation of a series of inalienable, fundamental human rights, including the right to life and in some cases, the right to be free from torture or from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“Any involvement of physicians in the forced harvesting of organs is therefore unlawful, unethical and in contravention of the professional codes set down by the World Medical Association. 

“The primary duty of all physicians is to promote the wellbeing of their patients – and, first and foremost, to ensure they do no harm. 

“The BMA calls on the People’s Republic of China to facilitate a thorough, independent investigation into forced organ harvesting, and to protect physicians’ core professional obligations by ensuring that physicians are never involved in such practices.

“In the UK, the BMA calls on the Government to reconsider its position on this issue in light of the findings of the Tribunal, and to use its influence in the international community to ensure that a full and proper investigation takes place.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. The Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China was convened in 2018 to establish whether, beyond reasonable doubt, the Chinese state or state-approved entities have committed criminal offences under international law related to forced organ harvesting.  
    The Tribunal was commissioned by, but is independent of, the non-governmental organisation International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC). The Tribunal comprises seven well-respected legal, medical, and human rights experts. The Tribunal is chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, who also led the prosecution of the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević in the Hague.
    Tribunals of this kind have investigated allegations of breaches of international law previously, where state bodies have declined to investigate. 
    Find more details on the China Tribunal’s website
  2. Read letters and more information about the BMA’s work on human rights here.

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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