Santa Marta Group- Africa Regional 2023 Conference on combating organ harvesting and trafficking.

The 2023 annual Santa Marta Group -Africa Regional conference was recently delivered through an online platform. The conference ran through 16th and 17th March. The theme for this year’s conference was, “Organ harvesting and trafficking; and its effects on the African Society”. 

Owing to the increased cases of organ harvesting and trafficking across the African continent, the theme resonated perfectly with the present time dynamics in the human trafficking context. In our previous editions of the newsletter, we ran various reports and stories about organ harvesting in various parts of Africa. Such stories included the Albino targeted killings (for organ removals) in parts of East and Southern Africa, the discrete movement of targeted organ harvesting victims to Europe from West Africa and the organ harvesting activities targeting African migrants in the Middle East.

Organ harvesting and trafficking is a form of modern slavery that refers to a range of criminal activities, including illegal organ harvesting from living or dead individuals and the unlawful sale and/or transplantation of human organs. Organ transplants are becoming increasingly commonplace. This is due to several reasons such as safer transplant procedures; better post-transplant management among others. 

However, this increasing demand is not matched by a similar surge in supply. Consequently, through desperation, many sick individuals are turning to the black market to source their organs, facilitating a hotbed of criminal activity. Forced organ harvesting is a dangerous and illegal practice globally.

 The SMG-Africa Regional conference aimed to address the following:

  1. Understand the dynamics and raise awareness on Organ Trafficking and Organ harvesting as a form of Human trafficking 
  2. Recognize the diplomatic community's role in addressing victims' needs. 
  3. Increase engagement with all partners to mitigate human trafficking and smuggling.

To achieve the conference objectives, the following were some of the conference outcomes:

  1. The SMG-Africa will work with other institutions, such as the government, the media, and Counter Human Trafficking organizations to intensify awareness and capacity-building on skills to counter the dynamic tactics of traffickers
  2. SMG-Africa to hold campaigns to call governments to implement conventions to end slavery and append their signatures and ratify international instruments and treaties.
  3. SMG-Africa to engage in  law-making process at all levels that will enact laws to protect victims and ensure prosecution for offenders. A need to lay hefty penalties for agents of Human Trafficking
  4. SMG-Africa to encourage Catholic Social Teaching through pastoral orientations to empower agents and restore the ethical principle of organ donation as a genuine testament of charity and love received in gratitude.
  5. SMG-Africa to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to champion for counter Human Trafficking teachings to be integrated into the curriculum of the learning institutions, especially beginning with Catholic-sponsored institutions.

On the heels of the conference, the UK media report the case of Nigerian Senator and his accomplices who were found guilty of trafficking a 21-year-old street trader to the UK to provide a kidney for the Senator’s daughter. This is just one of the many cases that came to light thanks to the keen medics who worked closely with the victim to unearth the matter and give it to the UK police. This scenario, therefore, underpins the need for collaborative support from different stakeholders to combat organ trafficking and organ harvesting and save lives as well as cut the business feed to the merchants of doom.

You can view the media report below

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