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American Journal of Bioethics.

Military Doctors and Deaths by Torture: When a Witness Becomes an Accessory

The Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service in the United Kingdom recently revoked a physician’s license for failing to report treating a man who had been tortured and for failing to safeguard vulnerable detainees. The physician was serving with the UK military in Afghanistan. Baha Mousa, a prisoner, was brought to him with extensive signs of severe physical trauma. Soldiers told him that the man had sustained trauma. The physician knew that there were other prisoners and was apparently within earshot of their cries for help (Dyer 2012a). The physician led a competent but unsuccessful attempt at resuscitation. However, he did not report the signs of trauma to a superior officer. He also failed to ensure the well-being of the other prisoners who were at risk of abuse (Dyer 2012c). He compounded his complicity by maintaining this silence through three postmortem investigations (Dyer 2012b). Essentially, this physician, innocent of torture himself, was judged to have acted as an accessory to the abuse of other prisoners, a violation of medical professionalism. Extensive government inquiries were done (Gage 2012). […]

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Volume 13, Issue 5
May 2013