Armenia signed the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs on 24 January 2018. The Convention, which is now signed by 21 countries and ratified by 5, identifies various activities constituting human organ trafficking as criminal offences and will come into force on 1 March 2018. Its central principle is “the illicit removal of human organs”, which is defined as organ removal without free, informed consent from living donors, or from the family of deceased donors, or the receipt of financial gain or comparable advantage by the donor, or a third party, in exchange for the removal of organs.
Any subsequent action involving illicitly removed organs are also considered as trafficking; these include the use of the organs for implantation or other purposes, the illicit solicitation, recruitment or offering and requesting of undue advantages, as well as the preparation, preservation, storage, transportation, transfer, receipt, import and export of organs. Attempts to commit, aid or abet any of the above activities are also considered criminal offences.
The Convention foresees measures for protecting witnesses and victims and calls on signatory parties to cooperate in international investigations and prosecutions. Preventative measures are also included at national and international level for ensuring transparency, promoting equal access to transplants and designating national contact points for the exchange of information pertaining to trafficking in human organs.
Organ trafficking not only represents a risk to individual and public health, but is also an affront to human rights and dignity. The Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs has international scope: it is open to any nation and not restricted to Council of Europe member States. It was prepared by the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on Trafficking in Human Organs, Tissues and Cells (PC-TO) under the authority of the Council of Europe’s European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), with the contribution of the European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO) and of the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO).