WMA Statement on the Development of a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to Permit Audit of Adherence of States to the Declaration of Tokyo

Adopted by the 62nd WMA General Assembly, Montevideo, Uruguay, October 2011,
and reaffirmed with minor revisions by the 218th Council session (online), London, United Kingdom, October 2021 


The WMA reaffirms its Declaration of Tokyo establishing guidelines for physicians concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in relation to detention and imprisonment, and recommends that a monitoring and reporting mechanism be established to permit audit of adherence of States to the terms of the said declaration, in particular: 

  1. Where physicians are working in situations of dual loyalties, support must be offered to ensure they are not put in positions that might lead to violations of fundamental professional ethics, whether by active breaches of medical ethics or omission of ethical conduct, and/or of human rights, as laid out in the Declaration of Tokyo. 
  2. Its constituent members should offer support for physicians in difficult situations, including, as feasible and without endangering either patients or doctors, helping individuals to report violations of patients’ health rights and physicians’ professional ethics in custodial settings. The support given must adhere to the principles put forward in the WMA Resolution on the Responsibility of Physicians in the Documentation and Denunciation of Acts of Torture or Cruel or Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. 
  3. The WMA should review the evidence available of the violation of human rights codes by states and/or the forcing of physicians to violate the Declaration of Tokyo and refer as appropriate such cases to the relevant national and international authorities. 
  4. The WMA should encourage its member associations to investigate accusations of physician involvement in torture and similar abuses of human rights reported to it from reputable sources, and to report back in particular on whether physicians are at risk and in need of support.  
  5. The WMA should provide support to its constituent members and their individual physicians members to resist such violations, and as far as realistically possible, stand firm in their ethical convictions. The medical profession and governments should also protect physicians endangered because they adhere to their professional and ethical obligations. 
  6. The WMA shall encourage and support its member associations in their calls for investigations by the relevant United Nations special rapporteur or any other standard and reliable accountability mechanism in place when valid concerns are raised. 
Declaration of Tokyo, Detention, Human Rights, Medical Ethics, Patient Rights, Reporting, Torture

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