Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Doctors and Human Rights

The Israeli Medical Association and doctors’ complicity in torture

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 07 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4078
  1. John S Yudkin, emeritus professor of medicine, University College London
  1. j.yudkin{at}

    The Israeli Medical Association needs to take well documented allegations of torture by doctors in Israel seriously

    A recent BMJ news report outlined the reasons behind the call by 725 doctors from 43 countries for the former chairman of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), Yoram Blachar, to step down as president of the World Medical Association (WMA).1 The doctors’ petition, addressed to Edward Hill, chairman of the WMA Council, documented a series of reports, going back to 1996,2 of cases in which Israeli doctors have been accused of complicity in torture and where the IMA had failed either to respond to or fully to investigate the charges. Although Dr Blachar is no longer the IMA president and concludes his term as WMA president this month, the petition still raises important questions concerning the IMA’s commitment to investigate and tackle possible complicity of Israeli doctors in the torture of prisoners and detainees.

    In March this year I contrasted the powerful position statement on torture posted on the IMA’s website with the failure of that body to respond to allegations in a report, published in May 2007, by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.3 4 5 The report comprised detailed testimonies …

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