WMA Statement on Physicians convicted of Genocide, War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity


Adopted by the 49th WMA General Assembly, Hamburg, Germany, November 1997
and reaffirmed by the WMA Council Session, Berlin, Germany, May 2007
and amended by t
he 69th WMA General Assembly, Reykjavik, Iceland, October 2018

SCOPE AND DEFINITIONS

The scope of this Statement includes the following specified crimes: genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

PREAMBLE

  • Physicians are bound by medical ethics to dedicate themselves to the good of their patients. Physicians who have been convicted of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity1, have violated medical ethics, human rights and international law and are therefore unworthy of practising medicine.
  • In accordance with the principle of the presumption of innocence, only physicians who have been convicted of the specified crimes should be declared unworthy of practising medicine.

DISCUSSION

  1. Physicians seeking to work in any country are subject to the regulations of that country’s relevant authorities or jurisdiction. The duty to demonstrate suitability to practice medicine rests with the person seeking licensure.
  2. Physicians who have been convicted of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity must not be allowed to practise in another country or jurisdiction.
  3. The relevant licensing authorities must ensure both that physicians have the required qualifications and that they have not been convicted of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity.
  4. Physicians who have been convicted of the specified crimes have sometimes been able to leave the country in which these crimes were committed and obtain a licence to practise medicine from the relevant licensing authority in another country.
  5. This practice is contrary to the public interest, damaging to the reputation of the medical profession, and may be detrimental to patient safety.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. The WMA recommends that physicians who have been convicted of the specified crimes be denied a license to practice medicine and membership to national medical associations by the relevant regulatory and licensing authority of that jurisdiction.
  2. The WMA recommends that relevant regulatory and licensing authorities use their own authority to inform themselves, in so far as is possible, if verifiable allegations of participation in genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity have been made against physicians, while at the same time respecting the presumption of innocence.
  3. National Medical Associations must be sure that a thorough investigation into those allegations is performed by an appropriate authority.
  4. The WMA recommends that national medical associations ensure that there is efficient communication amongst themselves and that where possible and appropriate they inform relevant national regulatory and licensing authorities of physicians’ convictions of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

1 As defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Statement
Crime, Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, License, Medical Associations, Medical Licensure, Prosecution, Regulation, War Crime