Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors and the war on terrorism

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 08 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:66
  1. Peter Hall, chair (
  1. Physicians for Human Rights-UK, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire WD5 0BE

    Everyone must understand—doctors don't “do” torture

    Members of coalition forces are reported to have tortured Iraqis and other nationals in detention centres in Iraq and elsewhere. These crimes followed the development of an enhanced role for the US military in collecting intelligence in the war on terrorism.1 So severe were the violations of international humanitarian law at Abu Ghraib Prison, Baghdad, that the acting United Nations high commissioner for human rights has said they possibly amount to crimes against humanity.2

    When in late 2002 the Guantanamo Bay detainees became less susceptible to the then menu of coercive interrogation methods, the US secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, approved 17 new techniques including stress positions, isolation, 20 hour interrogations, and nakedness.3 4 The solicitor acting for British men released without charge after two years at Guantanamo Bay has described their experiences—of being repeatedly …

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