218732 Weaponizing medicine: The health worker campaign to stop torture and reclaim medical ethics

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 10:30 AM - 10:50 AM

Kathleen Sullivan, JD , Custody Program, Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, MA
Nathaniel Raymond , Campaign Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, MA
Scott Allen, MD , Campaign Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, MA
Sarah Day Kalloch , Physicians For Human Rights, Cambridge, MA
Susannah Sirkin, MEd , Physicians for Human Rights, Deputy Director, Cambridge, MA
Introduction Responding to the Bush administration's use of torture, PHR's Campaign Against Torture seeks accountability for abuses, to ensure humane treatment of detainees, and to end US health personnel involvement in detainee abuse. To reach these goals, PHR built a health professional led movement using the following tactics:

Reports/Investigations PHR documented the systematic use of torture by US personnel against detainees through groundbreaking reports: Break Them Down; Leave No Marks; Broken Laws, Broken Lives; Aiding Torture; and Without Consent.

Professional Association Outreach PHR worked closely with leading medical associations to prohibit direct participation of physicians in interrogations. PHR moved the American Psychological Association (APA) to prohibit its members from illegal interrogations and supports a movement to end direct participation of psychologists in interrogations.

Medical and Public Health Student Engagement: PHR student chapters engaged their campuses on anti-torture education and congressional advocacy.

National Policy Advocacy US health professionals mobilized to urge the US to investigate allegations of torture, as well as the 2001 Dasht-e-Leili massacre in Northern Afghanistan.

Media PHR garnered more than 500 stories on torture, medical complicity, and related war crimes since 2005, which increased pressure on policy makers to respond.

State-based Legislation PHR works with health professionals in three states to pass legislation banning health professional participation in interrogations.

Results: PHR has mobilized thousands of health professionals to persuade the government to investigate torture by US forces; strengthen ethical prohibitions against torture for health professionals; and to ensure that those who tortured in America's name are accountable.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Define torture as laid out in US and international law Identify evidence and instances of medical complicity in torture List a variety of advocacy strategies health professionals can use to influence anti-torture policy

Keywords: Advocacy, Torture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Deputy Director of Physicians for Human Rights and participate in strategies and implementation of our Campaign for Accountability for Torture.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.