David Matas

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David Matas
David Matas 2.jpg
Born (1943-08-29) 29 August 1943 (age 72)

David Matas (born 29 August 1943) is the senior legal counsel of B'nai Brith Canada. He has maintained a private practice in refugee, immigration and human rights law since 1979. He has published various books and manuscripts and currently resides in Winnipeg.


David Matas was born in Winnipeg; his grandparents were immigrants from the Ukraine and Romania.[1] He obtained a B.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1964, and a Masters of Arts from Princeton University in 1965. In 1967, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts (Jurisprudence) from the University of Oxford, England, and in 1968 he obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law. In 1969, he became a Middle Temple United Kingdom Barrister, and he joined the Bar of Manitoba in 1971.

Government work[edit]

Matas served as a Law Clerk to the Chief Justice Supreme Court of Canada in 1968-69, and was a member of the Foreign Ownership Working Group, Government of Canada, and was special assistant to the Solicitor General of Canada in 1971-72.

He served as a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, the Task Force on Immigration Practices & Procedures, the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Conference on an International Criminal Court 1998, the Canadian Delegation to the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, and since 1997 the Director of the International Centre for Human Rights & Democratic Development.

Teaching work[edit]

Matas has also taught constitutional law at McGill University, Introductory Economics, Canadian Economic Problems, International Law, Civil Liberties, and Immigration & Refugee Law, at the University of Manitoba.


He ran for the Canadian House of Commons in the 1979 and 1980 federal elections as a Liberal candidate in Winnipeg—Assiniboine district and came in second place both times.

In 2009 David Matas was a signatory to a letter that opposed the appointment of Professor Christine Chinkin to a UN Human Rights Council fact finding mission regarding the potential that Israeli and Hamas engaged in war crimes during the 2008-2009 Gaza War on the basis that Chinkin signed a letter prior to the fact finding mission that Matas claims showed that she "concluded that Israel was acting contrary to international law."[2] Chinkin was not dismissed from the fact finding mission and went on to help produce the Goldstone report.

In his book "Aftershock: Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism", Matas accused critics of Israel's occupation of the West Bank of having double standards in not also criticizing China's occupation of Tibet.[3]

Human rights work[edit]

He has been actively involved as Director of the International Defence & Aid Fund for South Africa in Canada, Director of Canada-South Africa Cooperation, Co-chair Canadian Helsinki Watch Group, Director Manitoba Association of Rights & Liberties, Amnesty International, B'nai Brith Canada, the Canadian Bar Association, the International Commission of Jurists, Canadian Jewish Congress, and Canadian Council for Refugees.

He represented Lai Changxing in his extradition proceedings.[4]

He is also counsel for Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and is co-author of "Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights and Redress".

He presented various papers on the legal issue of prosecuting war criminals in Bangladesh.

Organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China[edit]

In 2006, with David Kilgour he released the Kilgour-Matas report,[5] which stated "the source of 41,500 transplants for the six year period 2000 to 2005 is unexplained" and "we believe that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners".[5] In 2009, they published an updated version of the report as a book.[6] They traveled to about 50 countries to raise awareness of the situation.[7] Later Matas stated, "We estimate in the period between 2000 and 2005, there were 41,500 transplants which have no other explained source".[8]

In 2012, State Organs: Transplant Abuse in China, edited by Matas and Dr. Torsten Trey, was published with essays from Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, Professor of Medicine,[9] Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics,[10] Dr. Jacob Lavee, cardiothoracic surgeon,[11] Dr. Ghazali Ahmad,[12] Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh,[13] Dr. Torsten Trey,[14] Ethan Gutmann and Matas.[15][16][17][18][19]

Ethan Gutmann interviewed over 100 witnesses and estimated that 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners were killed for their organs from 2000 to 2008.[20][21][22][23]




He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards including:[24]

  • Governor-General’s Confederation Medal in 1992
  • Outstanding Achievement Award from the Manitoba Association of Rights & Liberties in 1996
  • League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada Midwest Region Human Rights Achievement Award in 1999
  • Vancouver Interfaith Brotherhood Person of the Year 2006
  • Appointed a member of the Order of Canada on December 30, 2008.[25]
  • For their organ harvesting work Matas and Kilgour won the 2009 Human Rights Award from the German-based International Society for Human Rights and were nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.[7]


He appeared in Red Reign: The Bloody Harvest of China's Prisoners (2013),[26] and Davids and Goliath (2014).[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Matas: Revisiting Human Rights 29 August 2010, Epoch Times
  2. ^ http://blog.unwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/cdn-lawyers-support-recusal-of-biased-un-fact-finder-sept-11-09doc.pdf
  3. ^ https://books.google.com.au/books?id=DYR7SqcMe9gC&lpg=PA67&pg=PA67&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false
  4. ^ Bill Benedict (09 August 2009) "China's most wanted man admits guilt", cleveland.com
  5. ^ a b David Kilgour, David Matas (6 July 2006, revised 31 January 2007) An Independent Investigation into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China (free in 22 languages) organharvestinvestigation.net
  6. ^ David Kilgour, David Matas (2009) Bloody Harvest, The killing of Falun Gong for their organs p. 232 seraphimeditions.com
  7. ^ a b "Crusader up for Nobel Prize, Lawyer lauded for investigating abuses in China". Winnipeg Free Press. 20 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Killed for Organs: China's Secret State Transplant Business (2012) YouTube video, 8 minutes
  9. ^ G Danovitch articles, US National Library of Medicine
  10. ^ AL Caplan articles, US National Library of Medicine
  11. ^ J Lavee articles, US National Library of Medicine
  12. ^ G Ahmad articles, US National Library of Medicine
  13. ^ M Fiatarone Singh articles, US National Library of Medicine
  14. ^ T Trey articles, US National Library of Medicine
  15. ^ "State Organs: Introduction" seraphimeditions.com
  16. ^ Rebeca Kuropatwa (19 September 2012) "New Matas book reveals transplant abuse", Jewish Tribune
  17. ^ Mark Colvin (27 November 2012) "Parliament to hear evidence of transplant abuse in China", Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  18. ^ Matthew Robertson (31 August 2012) "Book Exposes Organized Killing for Organs in China" The Epoch Times
  19. ^ David Matas, Dr. Torsten Trey (2012) State Organs, Transplant Abuse in China seraphimeditions.com p. 144
  20. ^ Jay Nordlinger (25 August 2014) "Face The Slaughter: The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem, by Ethan Gutmann", National Review
  21. ^ Viv Young (11 August 2014) "The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem" New York Journal of Books
  22. ^ Barbara Turnbull (21 October 2014) "Q&A: Author and analyst Ethan Gutmann discusses China’s illegal organ trade" The Toronto Star
  23. ^ Ethan Gutmann (August 2014) The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem "Average number of Falun Gong in Laogai System at any given time" Low estimate 450,000, High estimate 1,000,000 p 320. "Best estimate of Falun Gong harvested 2000 to 2008" 65,000 p 322. amazon.com
  24. ^ "David Matas" Seraphim Editions
  25. ^ Governor General Announces New Appointments to the Order of Canada
  26. ^ "Red Reign trailer", (4 minutes) youtube, 30 July 2013,
  27. ^ "Davids and Goliath" (part 1 of 5), (14 minutes) youtube, 28 November 2014

External links[edit]