Involvement of physicians in inhuman state punishment condemned by WMA

(13.03.2015) The World Medical Association has condemned unreservedly the practice in Iran of involving physicians in applying punishment to convicted people.

Following the recent case of an Iranian man who was deliberately blinded after being convicted of pouring acid on another man’s face, the WMA has written to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei condemning both the inhuman punishment and the involvement of physicians.

WMA President Dr. Xavier Deau writes: ‘We condemn strongly such inhuman punishment. This cruelty is not justice, but a form of torture prohibited by international law. There is no value or gain from this action, only further suffering.

‘We are also particularly concerned by the involvement of physicians, as they are asked to cooperate with the Iranian authorities in the application of this punishment. By doing so, physicians are required to participate in the enabling of the sentence. They participate in unacceptable acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments. This is a flagrant violation of a fundamental principle of medical ethics “First do no harm”. We condemn unreservedly this abhorrent practice.

‘We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately stop carrying out these inhuman punishments and only implement sentences in line with international human rights law.’

Dr. Deau also called on Ayatollah Khamenei to take promptly all necessary steps to address the WMA’s concerns and demands concerning the sentence of flogging imposed on the jailed Iranian cleric Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, serving an 11-year prison sentence and in urgent need of medical treatment.