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For Immediate Release

Organ Trafficking Allegations in Kosovo Are Cause for Investigation

Cambridge, Mass - 12/20/2010

PHR strongly supports calls for a thorough investigation into allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo. Last week, a Council of Europe report suggested that Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci had led a ring of criminals who reportedly stole organs from prisoners of war and political rivals. The thefts allegedly occured when the Kosovo Liberation Army was fighting Serbian forces for control of the territory in 1998-1999. European Union prosecutors are currently bringing charges in a separate case of illicit kidney transplants in Kosovo.

"If true, this is a gross violation of the human rights of helpless prisoners,” said Frank Donaghue, CEO of Physicians for Human Rights, "but also the allegations of medical complicity are appalling. The idea that doctors would take organs from unwilling donors is a complete betrayal of medicine.”

The report is based partially on investigations by European Union officials and was written by Dick Marty for the Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The Council of Europe’s human rights committee also passed a resolution calling for a full investigation.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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