Is the international regulation of medical complicity with torture largely window dressing? The case of Israel and the lessons of a 12-year medical ethical appeal

This is the account of an ongoing appeal initiated in 2009 by 725 doctors from 43 countries concerning medical complicity with torture in Israel. It has been underpinned by a voluminous and still accumulating evidence base from reputable international and regional human rights organisations, quoted below, and has spanned the terms of office of four World Medical Association (WMA) presidencies and two UN special rapporteurs on torture. This campaign has been a litmus test of whether international medical codes regarding doctors and torture actually matter, and are applied rigorously and even-handededly, particularly when compelling evidence incriminates a WMA member association. Our findings in the case of Israel suggest that this is not true, and that impunity largely operates. The WMA seems in partisan violation of its mandate to be the official international watchdog on the ethical behaviour of doctors. And as the IMA case demonstrates, by their inaction national medical associations or other regulatory bodies appear to function at base as buttresses and shields of the state.

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