Thursday, April 28, 2011
Physicians Complicit in Gitmo Torture
According to the report, the Gitmo physicians turned a blind eye to potential evidence of torture. One patient experienced nightmares, memory lapses, depression and suicidal thoughts. A diagnosis of Post-traumatic stress disorder was not made, but instead the physician told him "to relax when guards are being more aggressive," the medical records showed. In another case, medical personnel allegedly "certified" the detainee's "fitness" to continue being interrogated after several periods of unconsciousness.
After the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration redefined interrogation acts such as sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, forced nudity, prolonged isolation and stress positions as "safe, legal ethical and effective." Waterboarding became a household word and shocking reports managed to leak out of the prison.
The report states there is "solid, specific evidence of both human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay and the apparent complicity of medical personnel in the abuse." The failure of physicians to document the causes of injury or to ask questions constitutes clear ethical breaches by the medical personnel. The Declaration of Tokyo states, "The physician's fundamental role is to alleviate the distress of his or her fellow human beings, and no motive, whether personal, collective, or political, shall prevail against this higher purpose."
There is no question that physicians are ethically bound to care for patients and actively resist participating in torture or harm of prisoners. I wrote about this way back in 2007 (check it out) and again in 2008 (check it out)
It is truly sad to be writing about this subject again in 2011.
Iacopino V, et al "Neglect of medical evidence of torture in Guantanamo Bay: a case series" PLoS Med 2011; DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001027.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 10:05 PM