[JURIST] China has officially banned the sale of human organs effective Wednesday following an April 6 decision [JURIST report] by the State Council [official website], according to reports by Chinese state media. Any doctors caught trafficking in organs will have their licenses revoked, any hospitals caught will be suspended from performing organ transplants for at least three years, and any government officials caught will be dismissed. Traffickers will also be subject to steep fines. The new rules still allow transplants of non-organ human tissue such as cells, corneas or marrow.
International human rights groups allege that China routinely harvests organs [JURIST report] from executed criminals and accident victims without the consent of the donors' families, a charge that China has long denied. In March, an anonymous senior Chinese Supreme Court [official website] official told [JURIST report] the state Xinhua News Agency that China uses the same strict organ donation procedures when accepting organs from executed criminals as it does with any other organ donations, but doubt exists as to how the requirement for informed consent [JURIST report] is enforced. In March 2006, the Chinese Ministry of Health [official website, in Chinese] issued a general ban on the sale of human organs [JURIST report] that took effect on July 1, 2006. The Ministry also issued new regulations [JURIST report] in August 2006 to counter unauthorized international trade in organs, including rules that would restrict the number of hospitals permitted to perform transplants. AFP has more.