As the bloodshed in Syria—which local organizations report has killed over 8,000 people so far—reaches new proportions daily, international actors have been unable to find an effective response to the crimes against humanity committed by the Assad regime.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) applauds members of Congress who wrote to the King of Bahrain, His Majesty Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, to request open access for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). PHR was recently denied entry to Bahrain to continue its human rights investigation despite previous assurances from the Government of Bahrain.
The Syrian government has responded to popular protests with months of sustained and extreme violence and intimidation, and an all-out assault on the country’s medical system. PHR has documented attacks on Syria’s medical profession – violations that are but one aspect of the myriad abuses the Syrian people have endured over the past several months.
PHR commends Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s decision to create an exemption to the “material support” bar for health professionals who have provided medical assistance to wounded combatants. The decision is a major victory for health professionals who were forced to provide health care to alleged terrorists during armed conflict. Previously, medical professionals forced to provide care to members of terrorist organizations, some under the threat of torture or death, were denied asylum in the US.
PHR strongly supports New York bill A.6665 (Gottfried) and S.4495 (Duane), “An Act to amend the public health law, the education law and the labor law, in relation to prohibiting participation in torture and improper treatment of prisoners by health care professionals,” which will bar all health care professionals from participating in the torture or improper treatment and interrogation of prisoners, requires health care providers to report torture or improper treatment of prisoners to responsible authorities, and provides whistleblower protections for health care professionals who refuse to undertake prohibited acts and those who participate in investigations of lawbreaking.