WMA condemns use of doctors in Saudi Arabia flogging

(05.02.2015) The use of doctors to assess prisoners’ fitness for being flogged in Saudi Arabia has been strongly condemned by the World Medical Association.

In a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia, the WMA President Dr. Xavier Deau calls for a halt to the flogging of Raif Badawi and his immediate release.

He adds: ‘Our attention was also drawn on a standard procedure in Saudi Arabia whereby doctors are required to assess prisoners’ fitness before they are flogged. By doing so, doctors are required to participate in the enabling of the sentence and therefore in acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments. This is a flagrant violation of a fundamental principle of medical ethics “Do no harm”. We therefore condemn unreservedly this standard practice and are determined to fully support doctors who refuse to participate in it.’

Dr. Deau says the WMA is very concerned by the sentence imposed on Mr Badawi of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He said Mr Badawi is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

‘The flogging imposed on Mr Badawi constitutes a form of grave cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that the WMA condemns strongly as a blatant violation of human dignity and human rights. It cannot be justified under any political, military, religious or other cause.’

Dr Deau concludes: ‘We are therefore calling on you to put an immediate stop to any further flogging of Raif Badawi and to release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience.’