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For Immediate Release

Beating and Imprisonment of Libyan Doctor is Decried

PHR calls on Libya to establish rule of law and hold perpetrators accountable

Cambridge, Mass. - 06/05/2012

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today decried the beating and imprisonment of Dr. Salem Forjani, a heart surgeon for the Health Ministry in Libya. PHR learned that Dr. Forjani was seized on May 17, 2012 by the Government’s Supreme Security Committee (SSC) from Tripoli’s largest hospital and taken to a base in a suburb of Tripoli where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured.

“Dr. Forjani is integral to his community and his incarceration and abuse are an attack on the citizens of Libya who depend on him,” said Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR’s International Forensic Program. “If Libya can’t protect Dr. Forjani and his rights, how can victims confidently put their trust in him as a doctor? When I was in Libya last year I got to know Dr. Forjani through my work advising the Ministry of Martyrs, Wounded, and Missing Persons. Dr. Forjani is the kind of doctor who is sought after to treat victim’s physical ills and he is also the kind of doctor whose patients ask for guidance on navigating through a climate of uncertainty and injustice.”

“The attack on Dr. Forjani highlights the urgent need for Libya to establish due process and rule of law, document crimes to the highest forensic standards, and ensure that doctors can operate safely without the fear of reprisals,” said Donna McKay, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights.

PHR also calls on Libya to hold the individuals responsible for Dr. Forjani’s detention and abuse accountable.

“Holding the guilty parties accountable is the most effective way to end the cycle of violence and establish the rule of law,” said McKay.

Last year, PHR conducted a comprehensive forensic evaluation of the 32nd Brigade massacre which occurred under Khamis Qaddafi on August 23, 2011 in Tripoli. During an in-depth investigation into the massacre and events preceding it, PHR gathered evidence of torture, rape, and summary executions of male detainees at the makeshift detention facility. In addition to investigating the 32nd Brigade massacre, PHR investigated war crimes in Misrata, a town targeted by Qaddafi’s forces during his brutal crackdown on opposition fighters.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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