Preventing, Combating & Punishing Trafficking Of Human Organs With Respect To Argentina

Though Argentina has been one of the few countries in the world in which the reality of human organ trafficking is yet in doubt, it is a prominent advocate of anti-human organ trafficking causes. It has not only adopted decisive measures to deter and punish human trafficking, it has united with the United Nations in the same spirit and in its belief that “Respect for human right and dignity is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” (Davidson , 2005). Argentina recognises human organ trafficking, however rationalised or mitigated, as essentially a patent violation of human rights, a dehumanisation of man by man, a selfish transaction implemented through the deceit or coercion of would-be victims, and, therefore, as a syndrome of moral corruption of the organ trade brokers, on the one hand, and of professional corruption of medical clinics, doctors and the police on the other (all of whom must, of course, be colluding with those brokers and middleman whose modus operandi is in no way concealed from them.)

“For instance, cases have been reported where a victim goes in for an unrelated illness or accident, but in the hospital, the person’s kidney is removed without their knowledge or consent. Cases such as these have been reported against medical institutions in Argentina, Brazil and India.” ( Pearson, 2004)

On the other hand, Argentina recognises that those who consent even under deceit and coercion to trade in human parts belong in most cases to the unenlightened and indigent masses, who are successfully tricked – in spite of the prevalence of the evil practice— into selling parts of their own bodies or of the bodies of their dead friends or relatives, or into recommending such trades to their friends and relatives. Hence the highlight on poverty and ignorance.

“Other cases have occurred where the person is recruited and taken abroad for an unspecified job that then fails to materialise. Such persons may be kept in a ‘safehouse’ and are psychologically coerced into remaining in the house and not venturing outdoors e.g. told that this place is very dangerous or that they might be imprisoned due to their status as an undocumented migrant. In a few cases, the person may be asked to donate blood, put under anaesthetic and wake up to find their kidney has been removed. The more common scenario is that after some time in the ‘safehouse’, the person is given the ‘option’ to sell a kidney, sometimes with threats to repay all the travel costs and sometimes heavily coerced into doing so (at gunpoint).”

“The most common type of trafficking of organs, is cases of people who agree to sell their organ and enter into a formal or informal contract to do so, but once the kidney is removed, they are cheated and not paid at all, or paid only half or a fraction of the initially agreed price. Organised crime plays a role in the form of brokers and middlemen coercing the poor to sell their kidneys (and corneas) by offering economic incentives. Brokers and surgeons frequently lie about the procedures and consequences of kidney removal. For example, they tell sellers that the operation is a minor one, that they can return to work immediately, that one kidney is ‘useless’ or dormant so this one will be removed etc” ( Ibid).                                                                       

“In Argentina, Brazil and Russia there have been cases of organ removal from bodies of people who have been declared brain-dead prematurely; the medical norms of brain death have not been adhered to and drugs administered to simulate brain death in comatose.” (Ibd).

The Argentinian government has, consequently, taken its anti-corruption campaign more seriously. Recognised as a diehard, perennial bane on the lives and progress of the nation, corruption has thus come across as a vice, deadly enough to merit the most stringent measures and draconian penalties.  Groups and individuals, nothwithstanding their relevance and supremacy, are subject to the surveillance of a well-articulated anti-corruption mechanism. The necessity to adhere to professional ethics, especially in the medical field, has been re-emphasised, in the realisation that professional ethics stipulates the cultivation of such professional loyalty and such humaneness as would naturally preclude the perversions and barbarities of the human organ traffickers and their medical accomplice.

On the other hand, public enlightenment has increased, and prospective sellers or donors of their body organs are advised of the implications of their sacrifices, the post-operative financial implications, and the falsehood of the claims by brokers about the redundancy or dormancy of the duplicates of their organs; for instance, they are advised “the second of a pair of kidneys is just as dispensable for a healthy living as the second of a pair of legs, arms, or eyes.” ( Ibid).

Neither is the government oblivious of role poverty has played in these matters. It has heightened its efforts to create employments for the general public, towards reducing the compelling desperation which dissuades prospective sellers of their body organs away from every scruple or misgiving.

And these resolute steps have yielded very encouraging results. Argentina in Focus gives the following progress table showing the results of survey carried out over a space of four years by a set of investigating sociologists about the incidence of human organ trafficking and the impact of government’s measures on the incidences. The figures (given in terms of points [pts]) represent relative incidences, comparative average rates of occurrences per month during the years in question.

Year                                                                       2001             2002             2003             2004

Sales of Live Kidneys                                           1.5pts           1.495pts        1.482pts    1.4pts

Sales of Cadaver kidneys                                     1.1pts           1.13pts         1.13pts       1.12pts

Voluntary Donations of Live kidneys                 0.1pt             0.101pt         0.101pt      0.101pt

Voluntary Donations of Cadaver Kidneys         0.16pt           0.162pts        0.164pt      0.165pt

Consented Trafficking into Argentina                1. 44pts        1.41pts         1.39pts       1.38pts

Consented Trafficking out of Argentina             1.1pts           0.92pt           0.81pt        0.75pt

Compelled Trafficking into Argentina                0.04pt          0.04pt           0.04pt         0.04pt

Compelled Trafficking out of Argentina             0.02pt          0.013pt         0.011pt       0.009pt

The drop in the incidence of human kidney trafficking is due quite considerably  to the influence of the United Nations (UN) on the Argentinian government policy. A number of United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles have directly impacted on the measures of the Argentinian government. These articles include:

  1. Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
  2. Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. ( trafficking human beings for their organs has been described as a form of slave trade)
  3. Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  4. Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution.
  5. Article 25.(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  6. Article 28.Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (By implication, other UN member states are partakers of the Argentinian spirit of anti-human organ trafficking, and , thus of such policies of the Argentinian government as fight for the reinstatement of human dignity from the current dehumanisations in the prevalent practices of coercive and deceptive human organ trafficking.).( Davidson, J.J)

Argentina has united with the UN to declare and enact punitive measures against the protagonists and accomplices of human organ trafficking, always excluding, however, the (coerced, compelled or voluntary) sellers of the organs.  Consequently, legal proceedings shall be taken against any clinic or medical practitioners who unduly performs transplantation of any sort (for instance, removing a cornea in a purported bid to treat diabetes), or engages in any transplant-related operations without legal license authorising him or her to engage in human organ transactions. Above these, every human- organ- trafficking middleman shall be considered a criminal.

Quite unfortunately, however, a number of Argentina’s neighbours have stood aloof from these endeavours against human organ trafficking. Such countries as Brazil and Guatemala have been for all practical purposes – at least from the information available to me – breeding grounds for this class of commercial dehumanisation.

Reference List

Davidson J.J, 2005. “Argentina in Focus”. Fabian & Co.

Elisabeth, I.H. 1999 “Human trafficking in Argentina”.Tobson Education B.B IAS.

Encarta Dictionary(2004).

Encyclopedia Britanica (2003).

J.J.Davidson 2005. “ South America.” Fabian & Co.

Pearson Eliane 2004, “ Coercion in Kidney Trade?” Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Germany.

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