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Is the international regulation of medical complicity with torture largely window dressing? The case of Israel and the lessons of a 12-year medical ethical appeal
  1. Derek Summerfield
  1. Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Derek Summerfield, King's College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London SE5 8BB, UK; derek.summerfield{at}googlemail.com

Abstract

This is the account of an ongoing appeal initiated in 2009 by 725 doctors from 43 countries concerning medical complicity with torture in Israel. It has been underpinned by a voluminous and still accumulating evidence base from reputable international and regional human rights organisations, quoted below, and has spanned the terms of office of four World Medical Association (WMA) presidencies and two UN special rapporteurs on torture. This campaign has been a litmus test of whether international medical codes regarding doctors and torture actually matter, and are applied rigorously and even-handededly, particularly when compelling evidence incriminates a WMA member association. Our findings in the case of Israel suggest that this is not true, and that impunity largely operates. The WMA seems in partisan violation of its mandate to be the official international watchdog on the ethical behaviour of doctors. And as the IMA case demonstrates, by their inaction national medical associations or other regulatory bodies appear to function at base as buttresses and shields of the state.

  • clinical ethics
  • applied and professional ethics
  • torture and genocide

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors I am the sole author and no contributions from any other party.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests Twenty-nine years of academic and human rights work related to Israel–Palestine.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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