Israel: Prison doctors and complicity in torture and ill treatment

November 29, 2011

A new report of IFHHRO member Physicians for Human Rights – Israel together with the Public Committee against Torture in Israel accuses doctors in Israeli prisons of complicity in torture. The report is based on over 100 cases of ill treatment of Palestinian detainees since 2007.

The researchers found that doctors were involved in torture, either directly or indirectly, in violation of their ethical and moral obligations. The report gives examples of: doctors lending a hand to torture by failing to properly document it in medical records; abstaining from reporting violence; returning interrogees to interrogations despite knowing they have been harmed; and supporting the interrogation by passing on medical information about interrogees to interrogators.

As the report states: “the findings of the study delineate a gloomy picture of the professional and ethical outlooks of doctors who interact with prisoners: it seems that medical professionals see themselves as part of the imprisoning apparatus, and see themselves as serving this system and its needs even at the price of the patient’s well-being – the consideration which ought to be their top priority.”

Further, it is also apparent that the systems responsible for enforcing the ethical codes, primarily the Israel Prison Service’s medical apparatus, the Ministry of Health and the Israel Medical Association, do not bother to enforce the ethical rules they themselves proclaim. “Though these groups see themselves as entrusted with the conduct of doctors in detention centers, they fail to provide a suitable infrastructure to facilitate the reporting of torture or, when appropriate, support, or punish doctors who interact with prisoners.”

The report Doctoring the Evidence – Abandoning the Victim is available from the PHR – Israel website.

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