This is an official report of the OSCE
Two-day online expert meeting to discuss recent developments and policy gaps in combating trafficking in human beings for the removal of organs concluded yesterday evening. The event was co-organized by the Office of the OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings (OSR/CTHB), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Despite being mentioned explicitly in the internationally recognized definition of trafficking in human beings, trafficking in human beings for the removal of organs remains one of the least understood and addressed forms of human trafficking globally. The event aimed to share experiences addressing this challenge and examine possible ways to enhance the OSCE region’s response. The meeting, gathering legal, criminal justice, medical and victim-protection experts from over 20 OSCE participating States, Partners for Co-operation and international organizations, explored the scope of trafficking in human beings for the removal of organs in the OSCE region. They also discussed recent developments in international and national legal frameworks, and current needs for further awareness-raising, policy, and capacity building efforts.
“One of the things I am struck by is how incredibly challenging it is to respond to trafficking in human beings. And yet I am also optimistic because we have been jointly developing some of the tools we need like on technology and financial investigations,” OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings Valiant Richey said.
Exploitation without borders
While the number of identified victims of this form of trafficking remains limited, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicates that this highly lucrative form of human trafficking is perpetrated by organized criminal networks able to operate over prolonged periods with high numbers of victims before being caught. Many participants pointed out the inadequacy of the legal instruments currently in use, and the crucial necessity to enhance cooperation between countries to make perpetrators accountable.
Participants stressed that attention needs to be devoted to situations with patients traveling abroad to get a transplant or coming from abroad with a donor. The crime often has a transboundary element, that makes it much harder for investigators and prosecutors to trace all the components of the crime and exercise jurisdiction over cases often encompassing numerous countries (victim from one country,