With the Czech Republic becoming its 4th ratifying party on 21 September, the Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs is getting closer to coming into force. The country is one of the initial signatory Member States to the Convention, when this was first opened for signature in 2015; its ratification was preceded by those of Albania, Norway and the Republic of Moldova. The Convention is set to come into force once ratified by five Member States, of which at least 3 should be Member States of the Council of Europe.
The Convention identifies different activities constituting trafficking in human organs, which ratifying Member States will have to consider as criminal offences. The central concept is the illicit removal of organs: the removal of human organs from living or deceased donors without the free informed consent of the donor, or their family in the case of deceased donors; or where, in exchange for the removal of organs, the donor, or a third party, receives a financial gain or comparable advantage. Any subsequent action involving illicitly removed organs are also considered as trafficking in human organs; they include: the use of the organs for implantation or other purposes; the illicit solicitation, recruitment, offering and requesting of undue advantages; the preparation, preservation, storage, transportation, transfer, receipt, import and export of the organs; and the aiding or abetting and attempt to commit any of the above activities.
The Convention includes measures to protect witnesses and victims in particular (including through civil damages) and calls signatory parties to cooperate internationally in investigations and prosecutions (including extraditing accused persons). In addition, the Convention foresees prevention measures both at national and international level, such as ensuring transparency, promoting equal access to transplants and designating national contact points for the exchange of information pertaining to trafficking in human organs.”