Here are 10 questions to resolve on the Ekweremadus’ alleged child trafficking and organ harvesting charges read yesterday in London. We spoke to a number of lawyers and present their various perspectives and questions on the issues.
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The prosecution said in court yesterday that the prospective organ donor is 15 years. Was this the age that he declared on his passport or this was established with other acceptable means of identification? What evidence does the prosecution have that shows that the prospective donor is a minor other than a verbal claim? Did he show police his NIN, birth certificate or just the international passport that supports his claim that he is 15 rather than the 21 written into his passport?
Was he interviewed by a consular officer when he appeared at the British High Commissioner for visa interview? Did he attend the interview himself or someone represented him? No one can represent another for a visa interview, so what age did he declare at the occasion? Is this age different from what he told the Police when he arrived in London? If so, who will bear responsibility for the discrepancy?
How will the prosecution prove that his right to self autonomy has been violated? A 15 year-old has right to refuse consent even where the parents or guardian consented. Even if he consented as an adult, he has right to withdraw his consent at any time. What he doesn’t have is right to lie,” one expert said.
While the law prohibits commoditizing organ donation, it does not prohibit a recipient from providing welfare and upkeep of the donor for the purpose of rehabilitation and leading a healthy life style. And it does not prohibit the recipient from facilitating travel and upkeep of the donor during the period of exchange. The only difference is where it is proved that the victim is being exploited through the crime of organ harvesting.
To establish age falsification, the issue will be who obtained passport for the boy and who signed and filled the passport. In Nigeria, however, passports are not obtained by proxy – it’s in person . If any one falsified his age, chances are that the court may likely hold the prospective donor liable.
Senator Ekweremadu’s letter to aid the prospective donor’s visa is self evident and self explanatory. In other words, he didn’t shield the reason for supporting the application and the purpose of the trip. If crime was intended, it is doubtful that he will be explicit in his letter to the High Commission as published online.
The prospective donor’s organ has not been tempered with, so the question of a crime already committed is ruled out. However, the UK Modern Slavery Act leans heavily on the intent, even when the actual crime has not been committed. In the same way, it also targets anyone who may have participated in the intended crime. So while the Ekweremadu’s have not committed the actual crime itself, they are arraigned for being accessories or participating in the alleged plan to commit a crime.
Sources close to the couple said he disappeared from their house to embark on measures to get an asylum. It was also said that after medical tests, his kidney did not match that of the couple’s daughter and he was about to be sent back to Nigeria when he disappeared. The police however said that the prospective donor reported that he was being abused and there was an attempt to criminally force him to donate an organ. Another version has it that the medical examination was discontinued when the boy said at the hospital that he was underage. It is very easy for the court to separate the facts from the lies with hospital evidence. The hospital is in the best position to say whether they discontinued the examination because the prospective donor is a minor or because his organ did not match that of the recipient. A lot depends on the hospital evidence.
It is for the prosecution to prove that the prospective donor was homeless in Nigeria and to also establish how he was picked out of the streets by the Ekweremadus. If the boy is an homeless street boy, in which street was he homeless? Assuming he is indeed a minor of 15 years, how did he come to know the Ekweremadus? Were his parents aware of the trip and consented ?
It depends on a number of factors. Can he read and write? Who submitted and processed his visa application? Was he interviewed by the British Consular officer before issuance of visa? What reason did he give to the interviewer for wanting to travel to London? Did he read the letter to the consulate by Senator Ekweremadu? If he did, were the content explicit and clear to him at the time?