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Tuesday, 11 September, 2007

US Guantanamo MDs 'complicit in torture'

A letter signed by 260 doctors, scientists and professors, , draws a parallel between the work of American physicians in the Guantanamo prison and the actions of South African physicians during apartheid who forged records to cover up the murder of activist Steve Biko.

The resolution of the Biko case was instrumental in the rehabilitation of the South African Medical and Dental Council and the Medical Association of South Africa, which had been subject to boycotts during the apartheid years. 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. We suspect that the doctors in Guantanamo and elsewhere have made the same mistake as [South African physician Benjamin Tucker, one of the two doctors who forged Biko's records] who, in 1991, in expressing remorse and seeking reinstatement, said “I had gradually lost the fearless independence…and become too closely identified with the organs of the State, especially the Police force…I have come to realise that a medical practitioner's first responsibility is the wellbeing of his patient, and that a medical practitioner cannot subordinate his patient's interest to extraneous considerations.”

The attitude of the US medical establishment appears to be one of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
Of the (PDF), just one is from Canada: , PhD (right), who is actually not Canadian, but German. Dr Schuklenk is a professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University and was appointed in June to hold the Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics. He's also the co-editor-in-chief of Bioethics. You can read his very interesting blog . Although he hasn't yet touched on the Guantanamo letter, he did write last month about a case in he has dubbed .

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