Guantanamo physicians ignored evidence of mistreatment: study

[JURIST] A study [text] released Tuesday by PLoS Medicine [journal website] asserts that US military medical personnel responsible for treating Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees consciously disregarded evidence of physical and psychological torture. The report's authors, including a retired US Army general, reviewed the medical records and case files of nine detainees, each of whom claim to have been subjected to treatment prohibited under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. Comparing the detainees' medical histories to their accusations of abuse, the study found that:

The medical affidavits in each of the nine cases indicate that the specific allegations of torture and ill treatment are highly consistent with physical and psychological evidence documented in the medical records and evaluations by non-governmental medical experts. However, the medical personnel who treated the detainees at [Guantanamo Bay] failed to inquire and/or document causes of the physical injuries and psychological symptoms they observed.
The study also argues that it is a breach of World Medical Association (WMA) [official website] ethical guidelines [text] for any medical professional to assist in concealing evidence of abuse.

The military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was opened in January 2002 [JURIST Archives report], and has consistently been a focal point for national and international controversy over the treatment of detainees. Earlier this week, WikiLeaks [official website] began publishing The Guantanamo Files [materials], a collection of more than 700 classified documents relating to the evidence and treatment of almost all detainees held at the facility between 2002 and 2008. A letter from a Guantanamo Bay detainee, made public in 2009, noted his deteriorating medical state and alleged that conditions at the prison worsened [JURIST report] for detainees in the year following President Barack Obama's election. In 2007, more than 260 doctors from 16 countries signed a letter critical of US military physicians for participating in the force-feeding of at least 128 detainees [JURIST reports] on hunger strikes.

 

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