Doctors in Libya are still under attack – even though the Libyan conflict officially ended last August. In December 2011, Qaddafi loyalists attacked the Director of Tripoli’s Central Hospital, holding him at gunpoint and forcibly detaining him and doctors went on strike after another doctor was assaulted on hospital property.
PHR welcomes the recent release of two Backpack Health Worker medics who were abducted by the Burma Army in Karen State, Burma in October of last year. The Backpack Health Worker Team is a community-based organization that provides medical care to civilians in war-torn Karen State.
Earlier this week, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda was chosen to be the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She will be the second person, and the first African, to hold this position. Bensouda was the likely choice for the position given her professional qualifications, including serving as Deputy Prosecutor to Luis Moreno-Ocampo during his nine-year tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the Court. Given the extent of the ICC’s work in Africa – all seven of the countries with cases before the court are African – the choice of an African prosecutor seems especially appropriate.
In response to advocacy from groups like Physicians for Human Rights, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano fixed a flaw in current immigration law by creating an exemption to the material support bar for health professionals who have provided medical assistance to wounded combatants as part of their ethical and moral responsibilities.
The Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011 is a bipartisan bill largely drafted by PHR that makes the protection of medical professionals and access to medical services a global policy priority for the US government.