National Rapporteur stresses need for international cooperation in combating organ trade

The office of the Dutch National Rapporteur was represented at the international ELPAT-congress on ethical, legal and psychosocial aspects of transplantation. At the congress, which was held in Rotterdam on 19 and 20 April, the head of office explained the link between organ trade and trafficking in human beings. He stressed that international cooperation is essential for combating this crime.

Lack of reliable information

There is hardly any reliable information about organ trade, the National Rapporteur concluded in her report about trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal, that was published in 2012. “As a consequence, it is hard to gain any insight in the networks behind this crime”, says National Rapporteur Ms. C. Dettmeijer-Vermeulen. “Wherever money can be made, be it off labour or off the human body, there is a risk of trafficking in human beings. As long as there is little understanding of this phenomenon it can not be ruled out completely that people abroad are being forced to donate an organ. ”


The ELPAT conference in Rotterdam focused on the exchange of information between scientists and medical practitioners from all parts of the world. The ethical, legal and psychosocial aspects of transplantation will be addressed in presentations. Besides that, the link between organ trade and trafficking in human beings was addressed by the head of the Office of the Rapporteur, Maarten Abelman. After the presentation, scientists debated on this subject and discussed possible ways to tackle it.

International cooperation

The National Rapporteur welcomes the international allure of the conference. Organ trade is a global market, in which donors, receivers, medical stakeholders and intermediaries often have different origins. Such was demonstrated in the documentary 'Looking for a kidney' that was broadcast on Dutch television on 14 April. A Dutch investigative journalist succeeded to contact an intermediary in France who referred her to a clinic in Mexico, where the transplantation could take place. Ms. Dettmeijer-Vermeulen: “The documentary confirms that combating this phenomenon will only succeed when it is approached internationally and stakeholders work together. That is why I applaud initiatives like the ELPAT-conference.”