Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) anti-torture expert, asked to immediately end force feeding of Guantánamo detainees during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this afternoon. Xenakis said force feeding is painful and degrading, and violates medical guidelines by undermining the doctor-patient relationship, and engaging health professionals in the use of force against the detainees.
Following a Bahraini criminal court’s acquittal this week of two military officers charged with torturing detainees and medical personnel, PHR renews its call for Bahrain’s government to make promised improvements to its justice system, including independent investigations and prosecutions that conform to internationally recognized legal standards of accountability.
Since 1997, every June 26 has marked the annual United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Millions of people around the world, including an estimated 500,000 in the United States, are struggling with the impact of horrific acts intentionally inflicted on them.
More than 150 physicians and other health care professionals from the United States and United Kingdom are urging President Obama to direct that detainees engaged in hunger strikes at Guantánamo Bay receive independent medical advice and evaluation.
We write to you as doctors and other health professionals to request that you attend to the open letter from 13 of the hunger strikers in Guantanamo to their military doctors. It is clear that they do not trust their military doctors. They have very good reason for this, as you should know, from the current protocols of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo,1 which those doctors are ordered to follow.