Human Rights Committee proposes a life sentence for organ traffickers (1)
A panel of UHRC commissioners appeared before the Health Committee. FILE PHOTO

Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has welcomed the life sentences proposed in the Uganda Human Organ and Transplant Bill, 2021 against traffickers.

Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) expresses its support for the proposed life sentence for traffickers contained in the Uganda Human Organ and Transplant Bill, 2021.

In the Uganda Human Organ and Transplant Bill, 2021, it was proposed that among other punishments, it would demonstrate equality if traffickers are stressed to life imprisonment.

Addressing the Parliament’s Committee on Health on Wednesday, the Commission’s Director of Monitoring and Inspection, Ruth Ssekindi suggested the punishment is very befitting.

“The penalties you raised in section 86 of the bill are okay; as a commission we are okay with the penalty that any person who sells a single organ faces life imprisonment,” she said.

Ssekindi supported a proposed Shs2 billion penalty for persons engaged in negotiations to trade in human organs terming it a good deterrent against the practice.

“We said who pays Shs2 billion; is there anyone who can afford it on their own? But because the vice is punitive, as a commission we are fine, we think that it is good to have it in our law,” said Ssekindi.

Based on laws, UHRC stands to state that organ donation should only be done voluntarily after one has consented. Ssekindi said this will help curb the idea of people uprooting other individuals unknowingly.

For a long, not only in Uganda, human organs have been unlawfully transplanted, donated and even stolen because of a lack of laws to regulate the activity.

Although the commission welcomed the law, they were left with pinpointing questions about whether a person after they have consented can later withdraw from having his organs extracted.

The Commission suggests that a donor should be allowed to withdraw consent at any moment before the procedure. However, legislators mark this can put the recipient’s health at risk.

“A person should be able to revoke their consent any time before the procedure starts. What if they have promised your mother a house and you will not tell this to the doctor but at the 11th hour you realize your life is in danger, shouldn’t I be allowed to say no?” asked Ssekindi.

Monica Kyamazima, a member of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) guided that the law should provide clear information on consent and that the donor should be made to understand the possible risks before consent.

“If consent is freely given, it may freely be revocable; if we have an operation that is so sensitive that the decision can’t be rescinded then that information must be given to the donor way in advance before they offer consent,” said Kyamazima.

Esther Mbayo, Luuka District MP said the committee will need to consult widely about withdrawing consent, recognizing the need to safeguard the rights and health of both the donor and recipient.

“We were told by the expert that it takes only two hours for the process to be done. If the donor withdraws consent what happens to the recipient who has already started opening up to receive the organ?” Mbayo said.