Judith Collins expresses concern about organ harvesting, forced labour allegations after Louisa Wall China comments

Judith Collins says National is "very concerned" about allegations of organ harvesting and forced labour in the spotlight again after a Labour MP spoke out about the alleged practices in China. 

Speaking to RNZ this week, Labour's Louisa Wall accused China of sourcing organs from political prisoners, such as members of the Uighur and Falun Gong populations. Wall, a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), based that off the 2019 China Tribunal report which accused China of crimes against humanity. 

"Based on a report from Lord Justice Nice from the UK, we now know that forced organ harvesting is occurring to service a global market where people are wanting hearts, lungs, eyes, skin," Wall said.

China says it stopped harvesting organs from executed prisoners in 2015 and has pushed back on allegations it continues to target minorities. 

Asked about Wall's comments on Tuesday, Collins said it was an important issue.

"I am going to make this really clear. The National Party does not support organ harvesting of people. We do not support forced labour and we do not support, essentially, camps on this. We are very concerned about it," Collins told reporters.

The National leader said the Government has "significantly better information than we have" and called for it to be shared with her. 

"I think this is a very important issue. Human rights, freedom of speech are very important to us. You can expect we will be asking the Government some questions about this."

National MP Simon O'Connor is also a member of the IPAC group. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday afternoon that the Government has raised "the issue of organ transplantation with China".

"We have sought updates on this issue and policy reforms for consent and transparency. So this is something that we've raised at that level."

But Ardern also emphasised that Wall had spoken as a member of the IPAC "rather than as a member of the Government in that regard". She said New Zealand didn't import organs from any country, except as "part of donor arrangements with Australia". 

Wall told RNZ she wants laws passed stopping Kiwis getting organ transplants sourced from China or anywhere that can't verify the integrity of its donor programme. 

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Newshub.

China has dismissed concerns about organ harvesting as recently as last month when several United Nations experts expressed alarm at credible reports suggesting the practice was underway.

"Forced organ harvesting in China appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations," the UN officials said. 

"We are deeply concerned by reports of discriminatory treatment of the prisoners or detainees based on their ethnicity and religion or belief."

It's estimated more than a million Uighurs Muslim are detained in camps across China's Xinjiang region, subject to torture, forced labour and sterilisation. China rejects that, however, saying the camps are for vocational education and counter-terrorism purposes. 

On the issue of forced labour, Wall told RNZ that New Zealand could be doing more to addressed slave trade from Xinjiang. 

"What the UK and Canada have done is they've got modern slavery acts and they want to ensure the corporates who are taking those raw materials, actually ensure that the production of those raw materials complies with the modern slavery act. I like that mechanism."

Ardern said the Government is already looking at ways to address modern slavery. Last week Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced he had convened a group to advise the Government on this issue, including possible legislation to require businesses to report on their supply chains.