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Monday, 22 February 2021
Page: 1375

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China: «Organ» Transplants

Dear Chair

I refer to recent correspondence regarding Petition Number PN0439. The petition draws to the attention of the House the full report of the China Tribunal Judgement released by the Independent Tribunal into «Forced» «Organ» «Harvesting» from Prisoners of Conscience in China and requests the House take actions in response.

Australia is committed to promoting and protecting human rights, including freedom of religion and freedom of belief for all people. We remain concerned that religious groups in China, including Falun Gong practitioners, and prisoners of conscience continue to be targeted on the basis of their beliefs. We have regularly raised our concerns about this issue with China, including at ministerial level, both directly and in international fora. We will continue to do so while serious human rights abuses continue.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is carefully monitoring reports of illegal «organ» «harvesting» in China, and regularly reviews available evidence as new reports are published. In May 2020, officials from the Australian High Commission in London met with the Chair of the China Tribunal, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, to further discuss the findings of the full report.

Australia is committed to preventing «organ» trafficking. Since 2004, the Government has had a comprehensive strategy to combat such crimes and is committed to ensuring Australia's response to «organ» trafficking and transplant tourism remains as effective as possible. Australia's states and territories have robust frameworks in place to regulate lawful donation and transplants of human organs and tissue for therapeutic purposes.

In November 2018, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) Human Rights Sub-Committee produced the report 'Compassion Not Commerce: An Inquiry into Human «Organ» Trafficking and «Organ» Transplant Tourism'. This report delivered 12 recommendations, including recommendations that consider the overseas actions of Australians who have travelled internationally for «organ transplants, which are currently under consideration by the Government. The Department of Home Affairs is leading the Government's response.

We will continue to closely monitor reports of mistreatment and restrictions against religious groups in China and seek opportunities to respond strongly to identified abuses.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Payne