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Trafficking Of Persons For The Purposes Of Organ Removal

Human Trafficking is widely spread and in fact the industry accounts for $150 billion which is a morbid representation of 40 million human beings around the world who have to endure painful realities that deprive them of their individuality and confines them into a life of bondage and modern-day slavery.


Trafficking in persons for the purposes of organ removal as defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.

This, as the name suggests, involves the victim being trafficked by international organised criminal syndicates in which the victim gets traded and/or killed for the purposes of having their organs sold to the highest bidder.

Typically, the narrative surrounding human trafficking cases involves victims made promises by syndicates who exploit their vulnerability and low socioeconomic circumstances and create a sense of desirability for the victim to leave the life of poverty back at home, offering them educational or job opportunities. A sense of ambition and desperation clouds the victims mind and they find themselves falling prey to the promises of a criminal who sells them off as property to be used in any means.


According to the Global Financial Integrity Organization, illegal organ trade is estimated to be $840 million to $1.7 billion dollars annually with the heart, the livers, the kidneys, the lung and the pancreas being the most in demand. It should be noted that trafficking of persons for organ removal and trafficking in organs are two separate crimes in which the former is what is being highlighted on this blog article. Trafficking in persons for the purposes of organ removal links to the transnational crime of human trafficking because the object of the crime is the victim themselves. Trafficking in organs which can occur, oftentimes holds no linkage with the legal or standard definition of human trafficking because the object of the crime is the organ, although this does not mean the possibility of the crime transforming itself to that of a trafficking in persons case can or should be eliminated.


Firstly, it is important for the phenomena of trafficking persons for the purposes of organ removal and trafficking in organs to be clearly identified and labelled according to their definitions. By doing so, it will allow us to combat these distinguished criminalities whilst creating comprehensive preventative measures that will deal with the crimes accordingly. Secondly, States need to make use of the Convention and Trafficking of Persons Protocol in order to combat but most importantly recognize the crime from the distinctions it holds and the victimization the persons involved have experienced. Lastly, research based studies on the trafficking of persons for purposes of organ removal needs to be encouraged and funded in order for us to understand the phenomenon in great depth. By doing so, law enforcement and white-collar crime agencies would be better equipped in working with States to detect financial activity that links to these organized crimes.

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