ALHR welcomes the early closure of Real Bodies: The Exhibition but warns about other exhibitions permitted to operate in Australia

September 6, 2018

Australia’s leading human rights lawyers welcome the early closure of Real Bodies – The Exhibition (Exhibition). The Exhibition was initially due to close end of October 2018, however, is now closing on 16 September 2018.

There has been mounting pressure placed on the NSW Government by human rights lawyers, medical professionals, academics and civil society organisations, due to the grave concerns about the legal and ethical operations of the Exhibition. A recent Open Letter to the NSW Premier called for an immediate and full investigation of the Exhibition.

Madeleine Bridgett, Co-Chair of ALHR’s Business and Human Rights Committee said, “the Exhibition organisers have provided no documentation regarding the provenance and consent of the bodies and organs on display, and it remains unclear, without this documentation, whether the Exhibition has complied with Australia’s laws, and internationally recognised legal and ethical standards”.

Mr Tom Zaller, President and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, the company responsible for the Exhibition, has publicly admitted there is no documentation verifying the provenance and identity of the deceased persons, and any certification of the deceased’s consent for display at the Exhibition.*

Credible evidence suggests that the exhibits may be the bodies and organs of executed prisoners of conscience in China. Ms Bridgett said, “the extrajudicial killing of prisoners of conscience for their organs breaches fundamental human rights laws, and laws governing crimes against humanity, organ trafficking and organ transplant tourism. Australia should do all it can to ensure that the bodies and organs on display in the Exhibition have not been sourced from executed prisoners of conscience”.

While Australian Lawyers for Human Rights welcomes the early closure of the Exhibition, it remains concerned about other current and future exhibitions permitted to operate in Australia without the necessary documentation to ensure the deceased’s human rights are protected. Ms Bridgett said, “all exhibitions of this kind, before being permitted to operate in Australia, should provide Australian authorities with documentation regarding the provenance and consent of the bodies and organs on display. Without such documentation these exhibitions should not be permitted to operate in Australia”.

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* ‘Real Bodies: The Exhibition’, controversy about ‘disturbing’ origins of corpses. Megan Palin. 9 April 2018. Available from: