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Response to zeemike (Reply #46)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 08:18 PM

132. Released prisoners would reveal horrendous US practices to the world.

The hell of Guantanamo is one of the darkest chapters of US history. One closely guarded aspect of Guantanamo is the participation of US Army physicians in designing and monitoring torture - a clear violation of their professional oath and the Geneva Convention.

Despite this, information that has become available indicates that the behavior of medical personnel at the US military prison facilities constitutes another war crime committed in the US “global war on terror.” Bloche and Marks write: “Not only did caregivers pass health information to military intelligence personnel; physicians assisted in the design of interrogation strategies, including sleep deprivation and other coercive methods tailored to detainees’ medical conditions. Medical personnel also coached interrogators on questioning technique.”

While the authors stop short of charging that doctors have directly participated in torture, they write that “there is probable cause for suspecting it.” They do argue, however, that any doctors or other medical personnel who helped devise and “execute aggressive counter-resistance plans...breached the laws of war.”

Such practices are in clear violation of the Third Geneva Convention, which states: “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever.”



Medical journal urges military physicians not to cooperate with Guantanamo force-feedings
Claire Schaeffer-Duffy | Jun. 26, 2013 NCR Today


A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine urges military physicians at Guantanamo not to cooperate with the force-feeding of prisoners currently on a hunger strike. Calling the military prison a "medical ethics-free zone," the authors of the article say they believe military doctors should "refuse to participate in any act that unambiguously violates medical ethics."

"Physicians at Guantanamo cannot permit the military to use them and their medical skills for military purposes and still comply with their ethical obligations. Force-feeding a competent person is not the practice of medicine; it is aggravated assault. Using a physician to assault prisoners no more changes the nature of the act than using physicians to 'monitor' torture makes torture a medical procedure. Military physicians are no more entitled to betray medical ethics than military lawyers are to betray the Constitution or military chaplains are to betray their religion," they write.

The prisoners' hunger strike has been going on at the military detention facility in Cuba for almost five months. According to The Washington Post, more than 100 detainees are refusing food to protest their indefinite detention and the conditions of their confinement. Of these, the Post reports, 41 are subjected daily to force-feedings, a procedure that entails strapping a detainee to a chair, inserting a tube in his nose and flooding his stomach with liquid protein.

In April (2010) President Barack Obama said he did not want any hunger-striker to die. In May, he promised to begin releasing the 86 men his interagency task force cleared to leave the prison in 2010. Weeks have passed, and no detainee has exited Guantanamo.
In fact, the situation there deteriorates.

Shaker Aamer, a British resident twice cleared for release from Guantanamo, recently told the head of the British legal charity Reprieve that prison authorities are using increasingly brutal tactics in an attempt to break the strike, making the cells "freezing cold" and employing metal-tipped tubes that cause prisoners to vomit during the twice-daily force-feedings.


In the interview, excerpts of which were published in the The Guardian, Aamer also said nurses are discarding their name tags before entering the camp so prisoners cannot identify and file complaints against them.

The article in The New England Journal of Medicine denounced the co-opting of medical professionals for political purposes.

"It's hardly revolutionary to state that physicians should act only in the best interests of their patients," the authors wrote.

They pointed out that "hunger striking is a peaceful political activity to protest terms of detention or prison conditions" and is not a medical condition that warrants force-feeding to prevent self-harm or save lives, as Guantanamo officials claim.


"Unlike individual medical and psychiatric assessments made in the context of doctor patient-relationship, the decision to force-feed prisoners is made by the base commander," they wrote. "It is a penological decision about how best to run the prison. Physicians who participate in this nonmedical process become weapons for maintaining prison order."


July 5-18, 2013


http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/medical-journal-urges-military-physicians-not-cooperate-guantanamo-force-feedings
and
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1306065

US Doctors 'Hid Signs of Torture' at Guantanamo
by Steve Connor

US government doctors who cared for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay deliberately concealed or ignored evidence that their patients were being tortured, the first official study of its kind has found.

A detailed review of the medical records and case files of nine Guantanamo inmates has concluded that medical personnel at the US detention centre were complicit in suppressing evidence that would demonstrate systematic torture of the inmates. (Image Credit: United States Department of Defense) A detailed review of the medical records and case files of nine Guantanamo inmates has concluded that medical personnel at the US detention centre were complicit in suppressing evidence that would demonstrate systematic torture of the inmates.

The review is published in an online scientific journal, PLoS Medicine, and is the first peer-reviewed study analysing the behaviour of the doctors in charge of Guantanamo inmates who were subjected to "enhanced interrogation" techniques that a decade ago had been classed by the US government as torture. All of the nine detainees investigated in the study claimed to their own legal teams that they were also subjected over many months – and in some cases years – to additional, unauthorised episodes of ill-treatment, such as severe beatings, threats of rape, or forced nudity.

"The abuses reported in this case series could not be practised without the interrogators and medical monitors being aware of the severe and prolonged physical and mental pain that they caused," the study found. Dr Iacopino said that if individual doctors are found to have breached professional ethics by ignoring the evidence of torture, they should have their medical licence removed at the very least. "In the case of individuals who aided or abetted torture, or knowingly neglected to document torture, then at the minimum they should have their licence removed, but they should also be subject to adjudication under the rule of law," Dr Iacopino said.

https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/04/27-3

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