The U.K.’s Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 became the official law after receiving Royal Assent on February 11, 2021. This marks the first legislative action by the U.K. government in response to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s heinous crimes of harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.
The new Bill was passed with amendments to the previous Medicines and Medical Devices Act that would “confer power to amend or supplement the law relating to human medicines, veterinary medicines, and medical devices; make provision about the enforcement of regulations, and the protection of health and safety, concerning medical devices; and for connected purposes.” The goal of the amendments was to prevent Britain’s medical institutions and practitioners from being complicit in the CCP’s state-sponsored massive killings on demand for organs.
The amendment was first introduced by MP Marie Rimmer, but failed in the House of Commons. When Lord Hunt of Kings Heath reintroduced it in the House of Lords in June 2020, it received overwhelming support from Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Baroness Northover, Lord Ribeiro and the Health Minister, Lord Bethell.
During the debate in the House of Lords on January 12, 2021, several Lords spoke in support of the legislation. Many of them said that the amendment would send a signal to the world that the U.K. will no longer turn a blind eye to the human atrocities and is set to take concrete actions to stop it.
Lord Hunt: Preventing Britain from Becoming Complicit in CCP's Crimes Against Humanity
Lord Hunt, the former UK Health Minister and former National Health Service (NHS) manager, remarked that this amendment was only a partial and prudent amendment to the current UK medical law.
“The world is increasingly aware of China’s forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. This horrific crime of forcibly removing the organs from living victims—a process leading to inevitable murder— has recently been found by the China Tribunal to be happening extensively,” he added.
He specifically mentioned the final judgment from the China Tribunal that “Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main – source of organ supply.” He urged the U.K. government to put pressure on the World Health Organization to take this seriously.
Lord Hunt said he hoped the bill can reflect the UK’s attitude and actions against the serious human rights violations committed by the CCP and that it can generate a positive impact in the international community.
“Nonetheless, the passing of my amendment would be a significant action. By giving Ministers the power to make regulations, this is a specific act by the UK in relation to the abhorrent practices in China that I have spoken of. But, internationally, the UK’s action will be seen as a marker and a real signal to other countries,” he said.
Baroness Penn: We Will Not Stand by as Violations [in China] Continue
Baroness Penn, who also serves as the Government whip, said that parliament members’ statements about the CCP's organ harvesting crimes and how the UK can avoid becoming complicit were very insightful and powerful.
She mentioned that the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office believes that the China Tribunal report adds to the growing body of evidence about the very disturbing situations faced by Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs and other minorities in China. Discussion over human rights violations in China provides some assurance of the Government’s absolute commitment to a strong action.
“We are all in agreement that we would not want the U.K. medicines industry compromised by the use of human tissue or cells sourced through human rights violations. The amendment will ensure that we have the power to take action to amend or supplement provisions governing the use of human tissues in medicinal products in the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 or the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004 to help assure the integrity of tissues and cells used in UK medicines if necessary,” Baroness Penn said.
She added that the Foreign Secretary just announced earlier that day an ambitious package of measures to ensure that “no British organizations, whether public or private, are contributing inadvertently to human rights violations in Xinjiang.”
“This demonstrates that we will not stand by as violations there continue. We will never hesitate to stand up for human rights as a force for good in the world.”
Lord Collins of Highbury: This Amendment Sends a Clear Message That We Will Not Tolerate Such Appalling Acts
Lord Collins of Highbury said he appreciated his colleagues’ efforts in introducing and supporting the amendment.
He pointed out that despite mounting evidence about the ongoing organ harvesting atrocities, the CCP has denied all claims about this and relied on the WHO to clear them of wrongdoing. The “WHO does not have an independent expert compliance assessment mechanism: it relies on the Government of China and the Chinese Communist Party simply saying that it does not happen,” he said.
He concluded that, “The importance of this amendment is not simply the specific points of law that it will address. The most important thing the amendment and this debate tonight does is send a very clear message that we will not tolerate such appalling acts against humanity and will deliver for the people of China, not for the Communist Party of China.”
Lord Alton of Liverpool: Far More Needs to Be Done
Lord Alton of Liverpool, a strong advocate for the bill, pointed out that the CCP is responsible for the ongoing human rights disasters in China.
“It is extraordinary that such things can happen in the 21st century, but they are happening. That is why we have to be vigilant and do what we can to prevent the exploitation of people who are caught up in these circumstances...We know that many dissidents—people who have spoken out against the regime—including lawyers, have been arrested, and some have disappeared, never to be seen again.”
“We also need to do far more about the phenomenon of people traveling to other parts of the world to take organs from others. That kind of organ tourism is something that the British Government needs to do more about.”
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: the U.K Won’t Turn a Blind Eye to the Crime
Baroness Finlay is the former president of the Royal Society of Medicine and current chairman of the Commonwealth Respect Life Project of the NHS. She introduced a bill in 2007 that successfully changed the UK government's policy on organ donation.
Baroness Finlay said during the debate that “Many of us have been concerned for some time about forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. The amendment is a strong signal that the UK does not turn a blind eye, however uncomfortable facing the problem may be.”
She commended the passing of the bill and said at the end of her speech that “we welcome wholeheartedly what the Government has done and the very important signals that are now being sent to the rest of the world.”
Baroness Finlay expressed hope that the U.K. government will stand firm against the crimes of the CCP. Together with Lord Ribeiro and Lord Patel, the three of them with professional medical background are promoting awareness and calling for actions in the British medical and pharmaceutical community.
She said in the debate in House of Commons on February 11 that “many other tribunal witnesses underwent torture, blood tests and organ scans while in detention.”
She cited the specific case of a Falun Gong practitioner. She said, “Liu Yumei, an elderly Falun Gong practitioner, was originally arrested on December 31, 2000 in Beijing. Police officers threatened that if she did not give her name and address, they would take away her organs and her family would not find her corpse. She was severely tortured during her detention, shackled to a bed by her neck, sexually abused, electric shocked and force-fed urine mixed with rice and was forcibly blood tested by a prison doctor.”
She noted that records from NHS indicated 29 U.K. citizens have gone to China and received organ transplants there in the past 10 years. And between 1995 and 2012, another 22 people traveled from U.K. to China to receive kidneys, but no further information about the Chinese donors was given. She called on the government to pay attention to this and tackle the issue of transplant tourism.
She also urged the government to take vigilant actions on regulating export products that facilitate the CCP’s forced organ harvesting atrocities.
Baroness Northover: Do All We Can to Put an End to This Practice
Baroness Northover is also a strong supporter of the amendment. She said that forced organ harvesting is “a terrible problem and one that it would be easy to turn away from, but those noble Lords simply do not do so.”
She pointed out that “We need to make further progress across this area, and I am sure this will be taken forward. Forced organ harvesting, which according to the China Tribunal has happened on a mass scale in China, is a horrific crime. Organs are removed from living victims by doctors in state-run hospitals for transplantation, inevitably killing the victim in the process.”
She also said that “the China Tribunal concluded that many victims were Falun Gong practitioners. A brutal and systematic crackdown on Falun Gong was initiated in 1999, with the Chinese leadership ordering their eradication. Many disappeared without a trace, which was when China’s organ transplant trade rapidly increased. As we now recognise, in recent years there has been a similar crackdown on the ethnic-minority Uighurs. They have been put into re-education camps and have endured forced labour, brainwashing, rape, and torture.”
She said she was glad to see the active response from the ministerial team on this front and she believed the U.K. government should be making more efforts in standing up against the CCP.
Baroness Jolly agreed with Baroness Northover, “The amendment would be an important step in the right direction, and we urge the Government to do all they can to put an end to this practice.”
In the final debate of the amendment on February 11, Baroness Northover added that “The tribunal concluded that crimes against humanity had occurred, beyond reasonable doubt. The tribunal found that the market of human organs and tissue is a state-sanctioned project where, in many cases, victims who are persecuted for their beliefs are subsequently tortured and their organs removed while still alive. That is absolutely appalling.”
“Evidence included recorded undercover telephone calls, some of which were at the very highest levels in the Chinese Government, including the Minister of Health and above, and which indicated the highest authority for this practice. A number of these calls indicated that human organs were available on demand. The significance of that is chilling.”
She mentioned that the Chinese “doctors from leading Chinese transplant hospitals admit, in undercover phone calls, that organs harvested from Falun Gong detainees are available.”
She said a Chinese government official who called himself “the butcher” compared live organ harvesting to “slaughtering pigs” and he said that “After scooping the organs out, I would sell them.”
MP Marie Rimmer: Time to Say “Never Again” to the New Genocide
On February 11, 2021, during the debate before the House of Commons voted to pass the amendment, MP Marie Rimmer, the original sponsor of the amendment, said that she became determined to “work on behalf of these human rights abuse victims to end forced tissue and organ harvesting” after seeing the “Real Bodies exhibition” in Birmingham.
“Our nation and the people who live here must not be complicit in the brutal acts of the Chinese communist regime,” she said. “I hope and pray that one day, those responsible for these despicable, heinous acts will be prosecuted for their crimes against humanity.”
She said, “The amendment sends a very clear message that we will not tolerate such appalling acts against humanity and that we will deliver for the people of China, not for the Communist party of China. Let the amendment truly mark the beginning of a new relationship with China—a relationship that is not naive. Today, Holocaust Memorial Day, is the day when the world says ‘Never again’ to genocide. Let this be the start of the Government putting those words into practice.”
MP Jim Shannon echoed his support for Ms. Rimmer of talking about the commercial forced organ harvesting that is happening in China against Falun Gong members, Christians, and Uyghur Muslims. “We need to address that, and I know that the Minister and other Ministers have that responsibility. It is very worrying,” he said.
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