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For Immediate Release

PHR Mourns the Loss of Richard Pierre Claude

Cambridge, Mass - 04/01/2011

Physicians for Human Rights mourns the passing Richard Pierre Claude, a driving force behind PHR since the organization’s earliest days.

Richard was one of the small band of pioneers and visionaries who seized on the notion that science and medicine contained unexplored and underexploited wonders for the field of human rights. Richard brought to PHR his wisdom gained from an eclectic understanding and experience of human rights law, policy, and practice, and matched it with the ideas of a group of passionate doctors who were eager to explore the myriad intersections of medicine and human rights. As PHR launched investigations in Chile on behalf of doctors leading the battle against Pinochet’s regime of torture and killing, Richard grounded their findings in analysis and policy reform proposals. 

While Richard continued to bring his soft-spoken insights and careful questions to PHR’s leadership, his prolific writings on human rights and science gathered up our experiences and scrutinized them for scholars and new practitioners. His 2002 volume, Science in the Service of Human Rights has captured the contributions of doctors in the evaluation of torture for asylum claims, the courage of health professionals who defend medical ethics on the battlefront, the power of DNA technology to identify the dead and reunite the living, and the capacity of statistics as the pursuit of truth to understand health and human rights problems that we had previously conveyed largely through anecdote and witness testimony.
“Richard exemplified the notion that health professionals have the power—and thus, the duty—to work against suffering wherever it occurs. His drive and compassion will be missed, even as his legacy inspires future generations of human rights activists,” said Frank Donaghue, CEO of PHR.

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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