Denial of health care amounts to torture, says WMA

An immediate investigation into reports of deliberate denial of health care in Iranian prisons, amounting to torture, has been called for by the World Medical Association.

In a statement today, the WMA denounces the reported practices as ‘horrifying’ and called for an immediate investigation by the Iranian authorities.

WMA President Dr. Heidi Stensmyren said: ’This methodical denial of healthcare constitutes nothing less than a form of torture. A recent report by Amnesty International refers to sick prisoners left to die in substandard prison clinics or in isolation, as well as the abuse of psychotropic drugs in prisons and the use of electric shocks in psychiatric hospitals

‘These reports are horrifying. Prison doctors who have alerted the authorities about prisoners at risk of serious harm or death are being ignored by prison staff. Regrettably, it appears as well that some physicians, charged with the medical care of prisoners are failing to observe principles of medical ethics to protect prisoners against torture and other ill-treatment’.

‘The international medical community must raise its concern about such appalling practices.

‘We have heard reports that political prisoners from different cities in Iran are facing the increased use of prolonged solitary confinement, forcible psychotropic drugs as well as sexual assault.

‘Iranian officials are committing violations of the right to life by deliberately denying injured prisoners lifesaving healthcare and refusing to investigate and ensure accountability for unlawful deaths in custody.

‘We demand immediate access to adequate medical care in prisons, as well as an independent and transparent investigation into cases of deaths in custody.’