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The Silent Crime... (Trafficking in Human Organs)

Dr. Ahlam Al-Qobati

الجريمة الصامتة ( تجارة الأعضاء).jpg

Recently, new types of crimes have emerged that have reached in their gravity a violation of human sanctity and his humanity, as they represent a violation of all meanings of humanity. It is classified as a high-risk crime because it crosses the borders of a single state.

Reports issued by the World Health Organization for the year 2015 indicated that there are more than 10,000 processes for buying and selling human organs on the black market annually, and between (5-10%) of all kidney transplants worldwide are through cross-border trafficking and smuggling.


These works achieve annual profits ranging between (600) million dollars and (1.2) billion dollars, while other estimates raise it to (8) billion dollars annually.

In light of the wars and conflicts and the resulting deteriorating security conditions in a group of countries, as well as other factors related to the stressful economic conditions that resulted in the expansion of poverty, in addition to the increase in the dominance of terrorist organizations, all of these and other factors emerged from the spread of the silent crime (trafficking in Human organs), due to the financial profits it generates, which was evident in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iran, according to a number of international and regional reports.

In this regard– for example, but not limited to– the British Arab Weekly website (AW) dealt in one of the reports with the phenomenon of human organ trade, in which it indicated that Iraq has become a hub in the organ trade sold by various brokers and gangs.

In Syria, Al-Baath newspaper conducted a reportage entitled “Organ trade...a commercial activity under the cover of donation!” In this reportage, It mentioned a number of reasons behind the spread of the phenomenon of organ trafficking, including the increase in poverty and the spread of gangs that include medical organizations and brokers.


The newspaper stated that these are linked with organizations abroad and work under the cover of donation within the framework of operations carried out through countries aimed at conspiring against Syria by all means, to quote the newspaper.  At the same time, Libya also became a hotbed for organ trafficking gangs.

The number of members of criminal networks for trafficking in human organs who work according to organized networks regionally and internationally, and represent a flock of intermediaries between the two parties (the patient and the donor) has increased, and they impersonate multiple characteristics, including: aid workers, activists in civil organizations, journalists, and they are present in medical institutions, websites and popular cafes.

Some of them specialize in trafficking in specific organs. They work on making and implementing the donor’s preparations, selecting samples for analysis, following up the process of booking travel tickets, paying the money to the seller of his organs, and signing pledges to conduct the surgery in a confidential and organized manner.

Some reports also indicated that criminal networks include doctors, members of the nursing staff, owners of medical centers and laboratories, university professors, brokers and even some personalities who are considered security officials in such countries, as well as those with criminal records.  It is a loose cross-border trade, the pace of which intensifies in countries dominated by wars and conflicts and ravaged by poverty.

In Yemen, the country suffers from the scourge of war and continuous conflicts, along with a long legacy of the absence of deterrent laws and the absence of oversight in light of a brutal class struggle in which most human values ​​have vanished, where survival has become for the strongest, in which the rich live at the expense of the poor and the weak, who may be forced after bitterness suffering means selling a piece of his body in order to give life to his dependents.

In fact, criminals lure victims under several names, including donation, whereby they are tempted with false money and job opportunities, taking advantage of their deteriorating living situation. According to a report issued by the World Bank, more than (80%) of Yemenis live below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate exceeds (60%).


All this, in addition to the war, internal conflicts and the collapse of the Yemeni economy, which was basically weak before 2015, has led to the spread of the phenomenon of trafficking in human organs in recent years, and criminal networks have emerged that form an organized mafia supported by a crowd of brokers who form a network that starts from inside Yemen and its arms extend to the outside, which continues to hunt victims of the poor, the destitute, and the internally and externally displaced, especially from groups with a low level of education.


They work to persuade them to sell their organs such as kidneys or parts of the liver for low prices, and they are often tempted to travel outside Yemen in an organized process of luring - according to several investigations published between 2014 and 2020. Rather, some investigations have pointed to the involvement of influential parties and personalities in Yemen who stand behind them and make money through this, as one of the Egyptian brokers explained by saying: “The matter is almost impossible without there being government agencies that facilitate our affairs in transferring them outside Yemen, and there are big names cooperate with us".

According to a US State Department report 2020, Yemen ranks fifth in the Arab world and fifteenth globally among the worst countries in which human organ trade is widespread, after it was ranked twenty in the world in 2016. This means that the spread of crime has increased significantly during the past four years while the crime of medical college serial killer Ahmed Adam in 2002 and the murder of Abdullah al-Aghbari in 2020 - and other crimes in most of the Yemeni governorates that are being covered- are only an indication of the crime that is carried out silently and complicity.

It is also unfortunate to say that Yemen has not yet signed the United Nations protocol on criminalizing human trafficking and punishing the perpetrators. Perhaps this is one of the main factors that resulted the absence of the official side’s role in the importance of reducing the crime of organ trafficking, which led to an increase in the spread of crime in various forms, including the ease of obtaining forged official documents for thousands of victims, through which a kinship relationship between the patient and the donor is proven, which are forged and issued by official bodies.

If we return to the legislative aspect, we will find almost unanimity among Muslim jurists that it is not permissible for a person to sell any of his members for the purpose of trading or earning, regardless of the justifications; because man is not a commodity that can be bought and sold, but rather a creature that God has honored and has inviolability, both alive and dead, and it is not permissible in any case for a Muslim to sell his organs.

At the same time, the laws relating to the crime of trafficking in human organs are still suffering weakness and deficiency, which contributed to its spread, and this applies to many Arab countries that only recognize donation and challenge selling. Therefore, the operations of selling and transplanting organs are managed behind the scenes and in different ways, apparently permissive, such as the name donation, and inwardly trafficking, evading legal violations and bearing the consequences of health risks associated with the process of transferring organs from one person to another.

Iran is the only country in the Middle East that allows the donation of human organs to a living person for a fee of up to (300) sterling pounds, which has made the organ trade in it a legal crime, while the black market for human organs trade is widespread in the rest of the countries of the region.

As for Yemeni law, it does not criminalize organ trafficking, which leads to the release of kidney sellers. In 2012, sources from the Yemeni government reported the spread of organ trafficking after gangs smuggled Yemenis from inside the country to Egypt to trade in their organs before the outbreak of the war and the recent conflicts that entered their seventh year and continued to exacerbate the spread of silent crime.

One of the victims (Ghamdan al-Duqaimi), whose painful story has spread on a number of websites, states that many Yemenis – most of them are workers in restaurants or are unemployed– are lured to sell their organs, while some are exposed to theft, while others receive only small amounts that do not exceed Five thousand dollars for their kidneys to name a few.

Unfortunately, there are no statistics that determine the extent of organ trafficking in Yemen, but this does not mean that there is no organ trade phenomenon, as the secrecy that accompanies these criminal practices makes it difficult to determine the size of this crime and the number of organs that are traded annually.

In conclusion, quick and tangible steps must be taken to curb the spread of this crime, including:

  1. Demanding an impartial international investigation into this serious issue and working to expose all entities and parties that condone the crime or facilitate its occurrence in order to stop the humanitarian violations against the poor, the weak, and the victims of deception.

  2. Expedite the fair trial of those involved in these heinous crimes.

  3. Working to enact strict and deterrent laws and legislation for anyone who tempts himself to violate the rights of others, exploit them, and buy their organs or force them to donate them.

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