Physician leaders express alarm at “appalling” amputation sentences

The World Medical Association has expressed its profound alarm after amputation sentences on four men were upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court. The four prisoners, convicted of robbery, are to have four fingers on their right hands completely cut off as stipulated by Iranian law. The sentences, which the WMA denounced in September, are believed to be carried out imminently.

In a letter to the Iranian authorities, WMA President Dr. David Barbe, reiterates the WMA’s firm opposition to these sentences, which purposely inflict extreme pain, irreversible disability and obliterate human dignity. He says such abhorrent practices are simply unworthy of a state governed by the rule of law. Amputation constitutes a grave cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment that the WMA denounces in the strongest terms as a patent violation of international human rights law.

Dr. Barbe calls for these ‘appalling acts of cruelty’ to be stopped and condemns the requirement under Iranian law for a physician to oversee the punishment. This was in direct violation with the core ethical principles of the medical profession. He adds ‘It is our standard to encourage physicians to honour their commitment to serve humanity and to resist any pressure to act contrary to the ethical principles governing their dedication to this task. We are determined to fully support physicians who refuse to participate in these inhuman actions’.

He calls on the Iranian authorities to finally comply with its international obligations, in particular under the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights prohibiting cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatments in all circumstances and without exception, that the Republic of Iran has ratified in 1975.