UN rights experts said Monday they had “credible information” that detainees from minority communities in China may be being subjected to forced organ harvesting, a claim fiercely rejected by Beijing.
The 12 independent experts, who are mandated by the United Nations but do not speak on its behalf, said in a statement they were “extremely alarmed” by the allegations.
Detained members of minority communities appeared to have been forcibly subjected to blood tests and organ examinations such as ultrasound and x-rays, without informed consent, said the UN experts.
This was not something other detainees were required to undergo.
The exam results were then registered in a database of living organ sources for transplants, the experts added.
“Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations,” they said.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief.”
Liu Yuyin, a spokesman for the Chinese mission in Geneva, condemned the experts for using “disinformation”. They had “slandered China”, which “staunchly opposes and categorically rejects the accusations”, he added.
“We are deeply alarmed that the special procedure mandate holders in question, lacking rudimentary thinking capability and judgement, have fallen for those clumsy lies,” he said in a statement.
The experts had “ignored the authoritative information provided by the Chinese government and chose to take the disinformation provided by anti-China separatist forces and the evil cult ‘Falun Gong'”, he added.
China has repeatedly faced accusations of forced organ harvesting from prisoners, and in particular members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement – accusations Beijing has always forcefully denied.
The experts included the UN special rapporteurs on human trafficking, on torture and on the right to the freedom of religion or belief, and the UN working group on arbitrary detention.
They said that hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas were allegedly the most common organs removed from prisoners.
“This form of trafficking with a medical nature allegedly involves health sector professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and other medical specialists,” they said.
UN rights experts had previously raised concerns about alleged forced organ harvesting from prisoners with the Chinese government back in 2006 and 2007, they pointed out.
Beijing had not at that time provided sufficient data on questions regarding the sources of organs for transplants.
“In this context, the lack of available data and information-sharing systems are obstacles to the successful identification and protection of victims of trafficking and effective investigation and prosecution of traffickers, the UN experts’ statement added.
“China is a country under the rule of law,” said Liu, in his response.
“The trading of human organs and illegal organ transplantation are strictly prohibited by law,” he added.
He called on the UN experts to “immediately correct their mistakes, discard bias against China, stop blatant slandering of China… and act in an impartial and objective manner”.