Physicians Urged to Denounce Acts of Torture

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Physicians around the world have been urged by the World Medical Association to denounce acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

At its General Assembly meeting in Helsinki, the WMA condemned any form of torture and reiterated its policy calling on physicians not to be involved in torture in any way. It also adopted a new policy statement setting out the ethical obligations on all physicians to report or denounce all acts of torture.

Dr Yoram Blachar, chairman of the WMA Council, said:

"We as physicians are the advocates and partners of our patients and we want to send a clear and unambiguous message to all perpetrators of torture that we condemn this abhorrent practice.

In addition we have a role as social leaders, and in this capacity physicians need to denounce acts of torture which they become aware of in the course of their medical practice".

The WMA, which is the global representative body for more than eight million physicians, is currently involved in an international project to set up training centres for health professionals to help detect and document signs of torture. This involves the care and rehabilitation of torture victims.

Dr Blachar said the establishment of the highest possible level of human rights was a priority for the WMA and these initiatives would greatly contribute to the achievement of this objective.