November 26, 2014
Last week, the American Nurses Association issued a statement supporting a nurse who refused to force-feed Guantánamo detainees based on his professional ethical obligations. Following the statement, IFHHRO member Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) urged the US Navy to end any disciplinary actions against the nurse, who has been charged with misconduct and faces potential discharge from the military.
The Navy is considering holding an administrative trial that could lead to the nurse’s discharge from the Navy, in which he has served for 18 years.
“Nurses, like physicians, have professional duties to respect the autonomous decisions of their patients and never participate in ill-treatment or torture,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s senior medical advisor. “This nurse has shown exemplary commitment to his profession’s ethics by refusing to comply with a military policy that has no clinical justification and is inherently harmful. The Navy should not punish him for refusing to compromise established ethical principles.”
According to PHR, the American Nurses Association (ANA) statement represents the first time the association has spoken publicly about force-feeding at Guantánamo, signaling the wider nursing community’s interest in the nurse’s situation and the military’s treatment of medical professionals. The ANA also released communications it had with top defense officials urging them not to punish the nurse for exercising his professional rights and duties. The World Medical Association and the American Medical Association are among the leading medical groups that prohibit force-feeding of competent adults.
PHR calls on the US government to:
- Immediately end the practice of force-feeding hunger strikers and institute policies and procedures consistent with the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Tokyo and Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers
- Ensure that no health professionals are compelled to participate in force-feeding, and that those who refuse do not face disciplinary or retaliatory actions for complying with their professional obligations
- Commit to full transparency around hunger strikes at Guantánamo and medical management policies and protocols
Source: PHR press release