Press Release

Varadkar Welcomes Ireland’s Signing of Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has welcomed the signature by Ireland of the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs.

The Convention was signed by Ambassador Peter Gunning, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the Council of Europe on behalf of Ireland at the Council of Europe Offices in Strasbourg today.

“Trafficking of human organs is an awful reality. It has developed into a global problem which violates the fundamental human rights and dignity of individuals. International cooperation is the only way to combat this crime, prosecute those behind it and protect vulnerable citizens who may be at risk of becoming victims of trafficking in human organs,” Minister Varadkar said.

Increasing the availability of organs is an important measure in combatting trafficking in human organs.  The Department of Health and the HSE have put a range of measures in place to increase the availability of organs available for transplantation in Ireland.  For example, organ donation nurse managers have been appointed in each of the hospital groups to foster a strong culture of organ donation, optimise conversion rates and ultimately increase the number of transplantations that are carried out each year.

The World Health Organization estimates that one fifth of the kidneys transplanted worldwide every year come from the black market. Organ trafficking takes many forms, including removing an organ without consent, offering a financial incentive in exchange for an organ or offering a financial incentive to a healthcare professional to perform a transplant using a trafficked organ. The purpose of the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs is to prevent and combat trafficking in human organs in order to protect the rights of victims and to facilitate co-operation at both national and international levels on action against trafficking in human organs.

Minister Varadkar congratulated the Council of Europe for its leadership in the area of transplantation. “The Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs is an important addition to the other Council of Europe initiatives in the field of organ donation and transplantation. The Convention represents an important transnational instrument for the prevention of organ trafficking,” the Minister said.

By becoming a signatory to the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, Ireland signals its intention to adhere to the provisions set down in the Convention pending the development of the necessary legislation to give effect to the Convention.

ENDS