World Medical Association urges Support for Doctors Facing Pressure on Torture

National Medical Associations have been urged by the World Medical Association to do more to support and protect doctors who are being pressured to condone or participate in cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, or even acts amounting to torture.

At its Council meeting in Berlin, WMA delegates expressed concern about continuing reports of doctors, particularly those working with prisoners, who face pressure to violate medical ethics, as expressed in a number of WMA Declarations. Doctors are often forced to keep silent or condone unethical situations, not knowing where to seek support.

Dr Edward Hill, chair of the WMA, said: ‘We need to do all we can to support and protect doctors who are resisting these pressures and we are anxious to ensure that our national medical association members do their utmost to help these doctors in the difficult situations they face.

‘It is a regrettable fact that in the ten years since the WMA adopted the Declaration of Hamburg which expressed support for doctors refusing to participate in, or to condone, the use of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, these abuses have continued to be reported throughout the world and doctors have continued to face unacceptable pressure. We urge medical associations to use the Declaration of Hamburg as an aid in resisting these pressures.’

The full text of the Declaration of Hamburg can be found on the WMA's website.