BILL WOULD CREATE NEW CRIMINAL OFFENSES, IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS
Prof. Irwin Cotler today introduced legislation to combat organ harvesting
by introducing legislation that would sanction persons who, inside or
outside Canada, are knowingly involved in the medical transplant of human
organs or other body parts obtained or acquired as a consequence of a
direct or indirect financial transaction or without the donor¡¯s consent.
Explained Cotler, ¡°The evidence of organ harvesting and individuals
trafficked for this purpose is as horrifying as it is shocking ¨C we must
ensure that Canada has the tools to prosecute individuals who engage in or
facilitate the practice. As well, this legislation seeks to prevent
individuals from entering Canada if there is reason to believe they are
doing so in an effort to facilitate or otherwise engage in organ
Cotler¡¯s bill was in part inspired by the work of David Matas and David
Kilgour, who have extensively investigated Chinese organ harvesting,
particularly that of Falun Gong practitioners. As Cotler put it, ¡°We
cannot alone change abhorrent practices in other countries, but we can
ensure that Canada is in no way complicit with this must fundamental
violation of human rights.¡±
Cotler noted that the bill would also address instances when
individuals are trafficked for organ harvesting, adding ¡°The news this
fall of children being trafficked to the UK for organ harvesting is both
sickening and appalling. The immigration provisions in this bill are
specifically aimed at preventing something similar from happening here¡±.
Among other things, the legislation would also create requirements for
certificates that a transplanted organ was obtained through donation, and
establish a list of individuals believed to have engage in organ
Prof. Cotler was first elected to Parliament in 1999 with 92% of the
vote. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, he helped transform the
face of the judiciary through the appointment of two outstanding women
justices to the Supreme Court of Canada ¨C making the Supreme Court of Canada
the most gender representative Supreme Court in the world, while also
appointing the first aboriginal justice and first visible minority justice
to an appellate court.
While Minister, Cotler introduced Canada¡¯s first-ever human trafficking
legislation as well as legislation for the protection of children and other
vulnerable persons. He also initiated Canada¡¯s first prosecution under the
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act, while spearheading the
first-ever National Justice Initiative Against Racism and Hate.
Cotler played an instrumental role in ensuring the inclusion of civil
liberties protections in the Anti-Terrorism Act and later as Minister
initiated the first prosecution under this legislation. He has been a vocal
advocate for international justice and genocide prevention, and the
promotion and implementation of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine.
Though Cotler served as Minister for only a short time, he quashed more
wrongful convictions in a single year than any prior Minister, notably in
the case of Steven Truscott. And, as part of his commitment to equality and
human rights, he crafted the Civil Marriage Act, legislation that
granted marriage equality to gays and lesbians while protecting religious
As an active global parliamentarian, Prof. Cotler has chaired
international groups such as the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights
in Iran, the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Interparliamentary Group, and the
Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism.
Prior to serving in Parliament, Prof. Cotler was a law professor at
McGill University (where he is now Professor Emeritus), and was also a
visiting professor at Harvard University and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Yale
Law School. A noted advocate for civil liberties, Cotler has litigated every
section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including
landmark cases in free speech, freedom of religion, women¡¯s rights, minority
rights, war crimes justice, prisoners¡¯ rights, and peace law.
As well, Cotler has served as counsel to numerous prisoners of conscience
around the world, including Nelson Mandela, Natan Sharansky, Saad Eddin
Ibrahim, and Jacobo Timerman. He is the recipient of 10 honorary doctorates
and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.