such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
Doctors who assist in torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment should face prosecution and licensing punishments,
says an editorial on the British Medical Journal website.
Steven Miles from the Center for Bioethics at the University of
Minnesota, says that more doctors are involved in torturing prisoners
than in treating torture survivors. But doctors who assist in torture
rarely face professional consequences. He argues that the medical
profession must not only dissociate itself from torture but actively
investigate and sanction offenders.
More than 100 countries condone the use of torture and up to half of
torture survivors report that a doctor was present and oversaw the
Miles points out that while medical societies are quick to condemn
doctors participating in torture abroad, they are not so vocal when it
comes to what is taking place in their own country.
In addition, while medical societies support ethical codes that ban
doctors from assisting in torture, such as the World Medical
Association's Declaration of Tokyo, in practice their policy is to do
little, and doctors typically remain exempt from punishment, he writes.
Miles believes that national medical councils and licensing agencies
should ensure that doctors who comply with torture can be punished for
breaching medical ethics. This has happened in some countries after the
torturing regimes have lost power. For example, the Chilean Medical
Society expelled six doctors for overseeing torture during Pinochet's
rule, and in South Africa two doctors were punished for failing to
report or treat Steven Biko for a fatal head injury inflicted by
police. But such examples are rare.
Miles calls for all medical societies to state that abetting torture
is a punishable breach of professional conduct for which there are no
term limits. Such codes would lay the foundation for holding doctors
accountable for torture after a torturing regime loses power, he says.
"Governments that practice torture need doctors. The medical
accomplices of torture must not rest in the confidence that they can
violate civil society and the ethics of medicine with impunity", he
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