WMA denounces torture and the involvement of health professionals

(13.12.2014) The World Medical Association strongly denounces the use of torture and the reported involvement of health professionals.

Commenting on this week’s report from a United States Senate committee on the Detention and Interrogation Program, the WMA said it had made clear in recent days and over many years its policy of denouncing all torture and on the prohibition of physician participation in torture. The use of non-medical rectal hydration and feeding, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, physical violence, prolonged use of stress positions, lack of access to appropriate medical care for treatment of injuries and mock burials were all deeply disturbing. According to the report, health personnel were involved in these interrogation techniques.

Dr. Xavier Deau, President of the WMA, said: ‘As representatives of the world’s physicians, the WMA utterly condemns all forms of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures. We maintain the utmost respect for human life and the ethical obligations on all physicians to “first do no harm” and to respect human dignity.

‘The WMA has a clear commitment, as stated in the WMA Declaration of Tokyo, on prohibiting physicians from participating in, or even being present during, the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures.’

Dr. Deau added: ‘The details of these reports are deeply disturbing. Participation by physicians or other healthcare professionals in torture undermines the trust, credibility and integrity of the profession. It is the medical community’s unequivocal ethical duty to denounce such inhumane, immoral acts’.