Stricter punishments in the fight against the illegal organ trade

2 April 2019

The illegal organ trade will be tackled more strictly from now on. The Parliamentary Health Committee has approved a bill by the N-VA in the matter.

Stricter punishments

It will from now on be possible for punishments to go as high as a fine of 75,000 euros and a prison sentence of ten years. In the case of criminal gangs, or if the “donor” dies, that punishment can even reach a fine of 150,000 euros and a prison sentence of 15 years. In addition, we are also introducing new crimes that can be prosecuted. For example, it will now also be a criminal offence to act as an intermediary in this trade, to recruit donors or to publish advertisements for the commercial organ trade. Finally, a punishment is also being provided for anyone who procures himself or herself an organ outside the legal circuit. That punishment is however less harsh because account does have to be taken of the duress that arises from the medical situation of these people.

International character

The illegal commercial organ trade has an international character. Inhabitants of rich countries try to get around the strict rules and long waiting lists in their home countries by searching for organs in poorer countries. The poverty in these countries often leads to a large offer of people in a desperate situation who hope to improve their life by selling an organ. For this reason, it will be possible for crimes in connection with the organ trade to be prosecuted in Belgium even when they were committed abroad.

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