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South African Truth Commission calls doctors to account for their actions during the apartheid era

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7098.1849c (Published 28 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1849
  1. Pat Sidley
  1. Johannesburg

    With sinister echoes of the Nuremberg trials, the medical profession in South Africa was called to account for its behaviour throughout the apartheid era at hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission last week.

    The commission heard cases in which doctors turned a blind eye to the routine torture of detainees and treated detainees so that police could continue to torture them. It was suggested that the country's health policy had, by omission and commission, contributed to the ill health of the poor and that authorities had falsified health data for propaganda purposes.

    The hearings were coordinated by Dr Wendy Orr, who as a young district surgeon during the state of emergency blew the whistle on the torture of detainees. She heard evidence from the defence force's medical service, …

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