New Report by Dr. Derek Summerfield on torture and medical complicity

hari kumar

Article: Is the international regulation of medical complicity with torture largely window dressing? The case of Israel and the lessons of a 12-year medical ethical appeal 
Free to access link:
My descriptor for the group:
Summerfield is a well known psychiatrist based in London, who has done important work on documenting and agitating against medical complicity with regime torture in a number  of countries. But he drew particular vehemence on himself, after his work on Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners and of Palestinian children in detention. As wikipedia describes it:
"Summerfield has been a vocal critic of the Israeli Government's actions against Palestiniansand of what he believes are Israeli physicians' violations of medical ethicsAn October 16, 2004 editorial published by the British Medical Journal, concerning what he described as the level of Israeli violence against Palestinian children generated controversy and a number of responses both negative and positive. He also attempted unsuccessfully to force Yoram Blachar to resign as head of the World Medical Association after spearheading a petition drive claiming Blachar supported torture while he was working in Israel.

This note highlights his most recent article, article now in the J of Medical Ethics, one of the BMJ stable. Here Summerfield gives:"
account of an ongoing appeal initiated in 2009 by 725 doctors from 43 countries concerning medical complicity with torture in Israel. It has been underpinned by a voluminous and still accumulating evidence base from reputable international and regional human rights organisations, quoted below, and has spanned the terms of office of four World Medical Association (WMA) presidencies and two UN special rapporteurs on torture. This campaign has been a litmus test of whether international medical codes regarding doctors and torture actually matter, and are applied rigorously and even-handededly, particularly when compelling evidence incriminates a WMA member association. Our findings in the case of Israel suggest that this is not true, and that impunity largely operates. The WMA seems in partisan violation of its mandate to be the official international watchdog on the ethical behaviour of doctors. And as the IMA case demonstrates, by their inaction national medical associations or other regulatory bodies appear to function at base as buttresses and shields of the state."

Dennis Brasky

Thank you Hari for this valuable report!