Withholding medical care from detainees is widespread, says UN

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 14 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1626
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

Denying medical treatment to detainees, especially victims of torture and prisoners with serious illnesses, can constitute cruel and inhumane treatment, says a United Nations independent expert on torture.

A report presented to the UN’s Human Rights Council documents individual cases of detainees who weren’t given urgent medical care in many countries, including China, Italy, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Burma (Myanmar), Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine. Some of the detainees died in custody, it says.

Juan Méndez, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, said that he is also “deeply concerned” by the large number of places of detention that don’t meet minimum international standards, including conditions relating to food, healthcare, minimum space, …

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