(Adapted from Literature Review on Trafficking Body parts by Mozambican Human Rights League)
Trafficking in human organs and body parts is mentioned in a number of documents. However, the majority of documents only consider trafficking of persons for the purpose of organ removal, rather than trafficking human body parts.
During the search for a definition, it was found that a comprehensive and internationally definition for Trafficking Body Parts (TBP) does not exist.
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol, 2000) provides the first internationally agreed upon definition of trafficking in persons:
(a) “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. (Article 3)
According to the Palermo Protocol, exploitation may include: sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery or servitude, the removal of organs.
TBP alone, separate from the victim, is not addressed in the UN Palermo Protocol. This was confirmed during the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking forum, Vienna, February 2008: “The trafficking of organs alone, separate from the donor, is not addressed by the Protocol, to constitute the crime of trafficking in persons for the purposes of organ removal, the actual person has to be transported for the purpose of removing their organs”.
The finding that there is no internationally recognized definition of TBP is supported by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: “A global comparison of trafficking in human organs and tissues is constrained by the lack of a uniform definition and the absence of consistent statistics and criminal reports”.
It is clear that there has been a long standing assumption that TBP relates only to transplants and therefore, generally speaking, the person would need to be trafficked for the purpose of removing the body part. It appears that the concept of using body parts for purposes other than transplants has not been considered when assessing the need for a definition.
Trafficking is the act of moving and trading something illegal. As being in possession of body parts for trade is considered illegal, this report argues that the movement of a body part for the purpose of sale or commercial transaction is trafficking body parts.
The 2008 research by the Mozambican Human Rights League, suggests the following:
Transportation or movement of a body part, either across a border or within a country for the purpose of sale or commercial transaction is considered trafficking body parts.