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For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights to Testify on Massachusetts Anti-Torture Legislation

09/19/2011

WHO

PHR’s Asylum Program Director, Christy Fujio, and Stephen McElroy, MD, MPH

WHAT

PHR will urge the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to support “An Act to Prohibit the Participation of Health Care Professionals in the Torture and Abusive Treatment of Prisoners H.3361,” which would make clear that Massachusetts-licensed health care professionals who participate in acts of torture and ill treatment should be subject to professional sanctions

WHEN

Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 1-5 p.m.

WHERE

Massachusetts State House, Room B-2, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

WHY

Reports have confirmed that doctors and psychologists were essential to the design, implementation, and rationalization of a system of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners in US custody. Health care professionals who participated in these activities committed grave violations of professional standards and ethical codes, violated the trust of their patients, diminished the stature of their profession, and committed crimes under US and international law. 

Massachusetts-licensed health care professionals who participate in such abhorrent acts, no matter where those acts occur, should be subject to professional sanctions. This law would help prevent torture and abuse by providing health care professionals with an additional legal basis to resist unlawful and unethical orders.

THE BILL WOULD:

  • Sanction MA-licensed health care professionals who participate in torture and abusive treatment of prisoners, wherever the abuse takes place.
  • Sanction MA-licensed health care professionals who participate in interrogation of prisoners, wherever the interrogation takes place.
  • Require MA-licensed health care professionals to report violations.
  • Help MA-licensed health care professionals resist unlawful orders that could place them at risk of criminal prosecutions and civil liability lawsuits.

 

For more information please contact Megan Prock at mprock@phrusa.org or 617.301.4237.

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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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