GLO.ACT facilitates multidisciplinary workshop to combat and prevent trafficking in persons for organ removal in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal - 03 August, 2017 - On 2-3 August 2017, under the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT), UNODC organized a multidisciplinary workshop for 45 criminal justice, police, medical/health and civil society representatives to combat and prevent Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for organ removal in Nepal.

Nepal, like many countries, is not immune to trafficking in persons, including for the purpose of organ removal. Available evidence suggests that cases have increased since the earthquake in 2015. According to civil society reports, up to 300 persons in one district alone have been victims of TIP for organ removal.

Superintendent of Police, Kiran Bajaracharya and US TIP Hero, highlighted that "despite the high numbers of victims of trafficking for organ removal, very few cases have been investigated and prosecuted". Most trafficked persons are approached by a family member, friend or somebody in a position of power who acts as an intermediary, who tells them that the removal of a kidney has no health implications.

This unique forum brought together for the first time medical professionals, criminal justice actors and civil society to begin a dialogue and raise awareness about the extent, scope and possible interventions/recommendations to combat TIP for the purpose of organ removal, including through available international legal frameworks and cooperation mechanisms.

Mr. Kedar Neupane, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs said that "Nepal is now reviewing the coordination mechanisms for all forms of trafficking since Nepal is no longer solely a country of origin but also one of transit and destination." Mr. Neupane also mentioned that victims of trafficking for organ removal have distinct needs, including medical, economic, and psychological stemming from the loss of the organ. A leading transplant surgeon, Dr. Pravin Joshi, stressed the need to promote safe and ethical organ donation programs, especially deceased donation, as a way to address the high demand.

Most victims of trafficking for organ removal are socio-economically marginalized with poor or non-existent access to medical care and suffer long term negative consequences for their health and livelihoods.

The discussion not only touched on the legal and medical health issues; Mr. Milbert Shin, independent criminal law expert, also explored the deep moral, ethical and even philosophical implications of the policies that a government may pursue in this area. As Ms. Binija Goperma, GLO.ACT Nepal's Programme Coordinator stated, "the importance of the collective effort to fight this crime requires not only a robust criminal justice response, but also the need to address root causes".

Ms. Aimée Comrie, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer and GLO.ACT policy lead, addressed the complex issue of consent, including the vulnerabilities which lead a person to 'sell' an organ, and what can be considered to be 'informed consent' for medical operations, through an interactive case study. When there are indications that a person could be a victim of trafficking for organ removal, such as the means of deception, coercion and abuse of a vulnerability, the consent is deemed to be irrelevant and the victim should not be criminalized or punished for having 'sold' an organ. This was echoed in the interventions of Dr. Debra Budiani-Saberi, Director of the NGO Coalition for Organ Solutions (recipient of a grant from the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons), who stressed the rights-based assistance and protection needs of victims, including psychological and legal aid, as well as livelihood and skills development.

GLO.ACT also took advantage of this workshop to pilot new monitoring, evaluation and learning tools, led by UNODC Consultant Ms. Irina Abzalova. Participants gave the workshop a very high rating and requested further training.

The outcome of the workshop was a set of recommendations as well as concrete activities which have been requested by police, health officials and civil society organizations, including efforts to collect, analyze and share data, facilitate cooperation between relevant NGOs, police and medical professionals, as well as between destination countries. Specialized training for law enforcement on crime scene investigation tailored to TIP for organ removal was also requested. GLO.ACT is keen to take advantage of the project's implementation until July 2019 to maximize the impact of activities to address this crime.

GLO.ACT Is a four-year (2015-2019) joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.


For more information, please contact:

Ms. Binija Goperma

Programme Coordinator



Twitter: @glo_act