Tribunal Investigates China’s Hidden Transplant Crimes

By Jane Werrell

Claims that the Chinese regime is murdering people to sell their organs have been made for over a decade. An independent people’s tribunal has been investigating the claims, and on Monday, June 17 it is to deliver its final judgment on whether the Chinese state has committed mass murder.

Some have described forced organ harvesting in China as “murder on demand.”

The victims are thought to be people jailed for their belief, like Falun Gong practitioners, a spiritual practice suppressed in China since 1999, and Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority in northwest China. Tibetan Buddhists and House Christians may also be victims.

But there could be some sense of justice soon.

On Monday, a people’s tribunal in London, United Kingdom, will deliver a final judgment about the mass killing of prisoners of conscience in China. The tribunal says it has reviewed all available evidence. It has heard testimonies from over 50 witnesses in two separate hearings.

Mihrigul Tursun, a Uyghur who last year testified before a U.S. congressional committee, gives evidence to the tribunal on April 7, 2019. (

Representatives from China were asked to take part in the hearings too, but did not respond.

The tribunal panel is chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice, who is best known for leading the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević in the Yugoslavia war crimes trial. Joining him is a panel of six experts in law, medicine, business, international relations, and China.

Last year in a draft interim judgment, Nice said the tribunal panel were “certain, unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt, that in China, forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time, involving a very substantial number of victims.”

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, chair of the China Tribunal into forced organ harvesting on the first day of public hearings in London on Dec. 8, 2018. (Justin Palmer)

People’s tribunals were originally set up during the era of the Vietnam war, to help victims of serious crimes, when international bodies were unwilling to investigate.

It’s a quasi-legal process, so they can’t actually charge anyone, but this type of tribunal can help put pressure on international organizations and raise awareness of the issue.

The people’s tribunal was established by a non-government organisation called the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), but remains independent of them.

“They have quite a powerful effect, just by virtue of taking place,” said Wendy Rogers, Professor of Clinical Ethics at Macquarie University, who is on the International Advisory Committee of ETAC.

“Often they’re taking place because there is a victim group that is not getting recognized from legal systems. So the people’s tribunals provide an avenue for them to give their evidence from them and to be heard in public.”

The final judgment may dispel doubts about whether state-sanctioned organ harvesting is happening in China—a judgment that for many, can’t come soon enough.