Professionals and the public in China first learned of the jail sentence of He Jiankui from the report of Xinhua News Agency. No information, including any interpretation, was provided by the Court. But the reported words of the sentence are so ambiguous as to leave room for different interpretations. We believe that the public has the right to know more than Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Court blames He and his accomplices for “their deliberate violence of China’s relevant regulations and medical ethics,” “the application of human embryonic gene editing technologies for which safety and efficacy have not been proven to clinical practices of assisted reproduction,” and “their action going beyond the bottom line of research/clinical ethics.” All these offences violate administrative regulations and ethical norms, but none of them are illegal under China’s civil or criminal laws. However, in listing these ethical and administrative wrongdoings in the sentence, the court may have been trying to fill the legal gap; that is extraordinary, and it should be praised.
We feel relieved that the trial in this case followed procedural law.... see more