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JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS: PARLIAMENT BACKS GREEK MOVE TO BAN HUMAN ORGAN TRAFFICKING.

A move to make trafficking in human organs and tissues a criminal offence across the European Union has got the thumbs-up from the European Parliament. The Greek-inspired draft Framework Decision, which would harmonise sanctions for such crimes, was approved by 432 votes to 0 with 25 abstentions in the Strasbourg plenary session on October 23. Some non-binding amendments were suggested by the MEPs to ensure that donors are not criminalised and to promote the legal trade in organs and issues.

The MEPs have endorsed the report adopted by its Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights on September 30 (see European Report 2808). A couple of fairly minor amendments were added on at the plenary stage, which clarify what is legal and what is not. One says that tissue engineering and use of cells for producing pharmaceuticals is not to be criminalised. Another says that removing organs from living donors who have no close personal relationship with the recipient should be a crime. UK Socialist rapporteur Robert Evans's main concern is that people who donate their organs because of their desperate personal situation are not tagged as criminals. The focus should be on punishing the agents of illegal trafficking, he believes.

Parliament recommends that the European Commission table a draft Directive to create an EU data base of legally-available organs, which would enable a quick match between donors and patients to be made. It also feels that the Commission could do more in the way of information campaigns to encourage people to donate their organs voluntarily. For those that do donate, they should be entitled to compensation for travel expenses and loss of earnings. The Parliament would also like illicit trading in blood, blood derivatives, reproductive organs and embryonic tissues to be covered by this initiative. Greece proposed this Framework Decision in March 2003 during its EU Presidency. So far, it has not progressed very far in the EU Council of Ministers where it can only be adopted by unanimity, while the European Commission has some doubts about it too (see European Report 2783).

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Title Annotation:trafficking in human organs and tissues
Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Oct 25, 2003
Words:343
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