05:27:14 PM
07 2007


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Iraq: Misna; On the 30th anniversary of the death of the anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who died from head injuries sustained during interrogation by South African police, 266 medical institutes and university centres around the world published a letter on the last edition of The Lancet medical journal, revealing strong parallels between the case and situation in Guantanamo. At the time, a doctor was struck off the medical register for providing inadequate care and lying on the real causes of Biko’s death (it was initially reported he died of a hunger strike) and another was reprimanded; at the Guantanamo Bay centre (on the Island of Cuba, but under US jurisdiction), where prisoners of the so-called war on terror are detained, according to the signatories of the letter, doctors present at the facility are breaching professional ethical guidelines. “Last year, we suggested that the physicians in Guantanamo force-feeding hunger strikers should be referred to their professional bodies for breaching internationally accepted ethical guidelines. One of us (DJN) lodged formal complaints with the medical boards for Georgia and California as well as pointing out to the American Medical Association (AMA) that the former hospital commander at Guantanamo, John Edmondson, was a member. After 18 months, there had been no reply from the AMA, the Californian authorities stated that they “do not have the jurisdiction to investigate incidents that occurred on a federal facility/military base”, and the authorities in Georgia stated that the “complaint was thoroughly investigated” but “the Board concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to support prosecution”. Yet an analysis of the same affidavit by the Royal College of Physicians concluded that “in England, this would be a criminal act”.

The UK government has refused a request from the British Medical Association for a group of independent doctors to assess the detainees”, reads the letter. The signatories therefore reach the conclusion that the doctors present at Guantanamo are committing the same errors as those that thirty years ago in South Africa led a medical practitioner to subordinate his patient's interest to extraneous considerations. “The failure of the US regulatory authorities to act is damaging the reputation of US military medicine. No health-care worker in the War on Terror has been charged or convicted of any significant offence despite numerous instances documented including fraudulent record keeping on detainees who have died as a result of failed interrogations”, conclude the 266 doctors.

Source by MISNA

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