Set up after the Nazi Doctors’ Trial at Nuremburg, the World Medical Association now gives carte blanche to State Torture
There can be no more damning criticism of Israel and Western imperialism than that the system introduced after 1945 to ensure that never again were doctors integral in state torture and murder, following the Doctors Trial at Nuremburg, has effectively been abandoned.
The World Medical Association was specifically set up to ensure that no more Dr Josef Mengels and the other Nazi doctors who participated in the ‘twins’ experiments and other horrors, would escape scrutiny and justice. Instead the WMA sat on its hands whilst doctors supervised torture in Guantanamo and even appointed as its President for 2 years, the torture supporting head of the Israeli Medical Association Dr Yoram Blachar. Indeed the Israeli Medical Association has a position on Israeli doctors’ involvement in torture which is akin to the attitude adopted by the SS Doctors – it approves of it in the case of those it deems enemies of Zionism.
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How else to explain the fact that according to Haaretz (10.8.09.) the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) cut all links with the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights precisely because they kept raising the question of torture of Palestinians and what the IMA was doing about it. http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/israel-medical-association-defends.html
The only ‘excuse’ that Israel has offered as to why a healthy young man of 30 should die 2 days after arrest, having admitted that when Israeli doctors examined him he was fit for torture, was that those trying to resuscitate him bruised him in the process! The last desperate gamble of a regime caught on its own petard. It reminds me of when the Birmingham 6, having been beaten up by the Police were then beaten up by the prison warders and the latter was used as an excuse to say that police confessions were not obtained by torture.
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As always the indefatiguable Dr Derek Summerfield is refusing to allow the weasels words of the IMA and WMA to go unchallenged. A doctor is there to preserve health not to supervise its destruction.
Letter from Dr Derek Summerfield, Honorary senior lecturer at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry
Dear campaign colleagues and other supporters,
In this week’s Lancet, the international medical journal, there is an article concerning the case of Arafat Jaradat who was tortured to death by Israel’s Shin Bet secret police. The key point is of course why the Israeli doctor(s) who examined a fit and healthy 30 year old, just arrested, died 2 days later- having expired during interrogation by the Israelis own admission. The mass of documentation we have been citing since our campaign started in 2009 – from AmnestyInternational, Defence of Children International-Palestine/UnitedAgainst Torture Coalition, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Public Committeee Against Torture in Israel etc – makes crystal clear the integral role Israeli doctors play in the security/interrogation units whose routine output is torture. This is medical collusion with torture on an institutionalised basis, in violation of all medical ethical codes including the Declaration of Tokyo of the World Medical Association. The disclaimer the Israeli Medical Association have issued in this case, quoted in the Lancet article, is of course the standard form of words they trot out routinely at such times, and deeply cynical, as the documentary record attests.
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As we have discovered, the World Medical Association, who were created specifically to oversee medical ethics worldwide, are in violation of their mandate in their refusal to address our campaign (despite representing 725 physicians from 43 countries) and the evidence to which we point. The WMA has allowed itself to be neutered by the IMA, though will speak out when reports of medical collusion in other (non-Western) countries reach them. We are still trying to elicit a response from the next level up, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, as you know. I will send the Lancet article to them this week.
Please circulate as widely as possible.
Dr Derek Summerfield
Israeli doctors accused of collusion in torture
The Lancet, Volume 381, Issue 9869, Page 794, 9 March 2013
Questions are being raised about the involvement of Israeli doctors in the suspected torture of a young Palestinian detainee who died in custody last month.
The death of a Palestinian prisoner in disputed circumstances in an Israeli prison has reignited a longstanding controversy over alleged physician complicity in torture as well as sparking renewed Palestinian anger over the estimated 4600 prisoners held by Israel.
The Israeli Medical Association (IMA) denied that medical professionals were involved in torture or abuse and said that as far as it knew, torture was not approved or used by Israeli security forces or prisons. However, human-rights campaigners say Palestinian prisoners have long suffered from beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged and painful handcuffing, humiliation, and medical neglect—considered torture under international standards.
Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old petrol attendant with two children, was arrested on Feb 18 on suspicion of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails during a West Bank demonstration held last November against Israeli military action in the Gaza strip. Palestinians say his arrest, months after the demonstration, and his interrogation was part of a longstanding Israeli policy to coerce prisoners to become informants after their release.
Palestinian leaders say some 800 000 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces since 1967, and Jaradat was the 203rd prisoner to die. He died after several days of interrogation by Israeli’s Shin Bet internal security service on Feb 23 at Israel’s Megiddo prison. An autopsy was held the next day at Israel’s Institute of Forensic Medicine in the presence of Saber Aloul, the Palestinian Authority’s chief pathologist, who said bruising on the body was evidence of torture.
Israel’s health ministry said on Feb 28, after examining new findings from the autopsy that there was no evidence Jaradat was physically abused or poisoned, nor was it possible to determine his cause of death.
Israeli officials had originally attributed his death to a heart attack and said bruising and broken ribs were “characteristic findings of a resuscitation, which the medical crew from the Israel Prison Service and Magen David Adom engaged in for 50 minutes in an effort to save his life”.
Additional samples taken from the body were still undergoing microscopic and toxicology tests and results were not expected for several weeks. “The signs that appeared during the autopsy show clearly that he was subjected to severe torture that led immediately to his death”, Issa Qaraka, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs said at a Ramallah press conference after being briefed by the Palestinian pathologist who attended the autopsy.
Kamil Sabbagh, Jaradat’s lawyer, told an Israeli military judge a couple of days before his client’s death that he was being forced to sit for long periods during interrogation, had complained of back pain, and seemed terrified of returning to the Shin Bet detention centre where he was being held. The judge ordered an examination by a prison doctor. Jaradat died at Megiddo prison and it was not known when he was moved there.
Derek Summerfield, an honorary senior lecturer at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry and campaigner against what he called Israeli physicians’ violations of human rights, says he wanted to know what part doctors played in the circumstances of Jaradat’s death. “By Israel’s own admission, Jaradat was seen by Israeli doctors 2 days earlier and they found him in good health. The key medical ethical question is what were these doctors examining him for, if not to assess whether he could withstand torture”, he tells The Lancet. “This is precisely what the campaign regarding medical collusion with torture in Israel was launched for in 2009 and it continues to run.”
The IMA said in a statement: “The IMA vociferously objects to the claim that medical professionals are involved in torture or abuse, and we will continue to do everything possible with the tools available to us to inform doctors about their obligation to report and to conduct themselves appropriately.”
The IMA and human rights organisations have called for responsibility for prisoners’ health to be taken away from the Israel Prison Service (IPS) and given to an outside body, such as health maintenance organisations (HMO) or the health ministry, which a year ago set up a standing committee to which doctors can report suspicions of torture.
“It’s true that every doctor has a conflict of interest between the patient and the system in the HMOs and also in the army”, Avinoam Reches, who heads the IMA’s Ethics Board, told Ha’aretz newspaper. “But in the case of the IPS, the problem is severe because the treatment is given to people who have no freedom of choice whatsoever.”
Palestinians and human-rights groups demanded an independent investigation into Jaradat’s death.