Turkey: Breach of medical neutrality

January 20, 2014

In the beginning of January 2014, the parliament of Turkey passed a bill that criminalizes doctors and other health workers who provide first aid in emergency situations without state authorisation.

Under the bill, medical professionals who provide independent assistance once official health services are on the scene could face up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine of two million Turkish lira (€ 675,000). According to IFHHRO member Physicians for Human Rights (PHR-USA), the health bill will lead to the arrest and punishment of emergency health care responders for caring for their patients.

“The Turkish government must support and protect health care workers in abiding by their moral, ethical, and professional responsibilities to provide care for the sick and injured – not punish them for doing so. This is not the first assault on medical personnel in Turkey. In May 2013, Turkish security forces attacked independent medical personnel who courageously provided care to injured protestors. The Ministry of Health failed to provide adequate medical care to those injured during demonstrations, further demonstrating that doctors must be allowed to do their jobs and treat those in need during emergency situations. The care provided by medical personnel in response to the government’s excessive use of force was essential in treating wounded protestors.”

PHR is calling on the Turkish president to refuse to sign the health bill and urges all concerned to send a letter of protest to the president. 

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