Torture and the Regulation of the Health Care Professions

  • John Lunstroth
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New book series (LIME, volume 41)

The press is filled with reports of torture committed by members of the US government. All too frequently these reports contain disturbing references to “health care” personnel such as medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and others. Although the reports of global US-sponsored torture are often presented as though it is something new in response to security concerns after 9/11, in fact the US has had explicit policies condoning torture and torture facilities since the early cold-war period, and medical personnel have always been involved.

Stories about doctors involved with torture routinely contain statements that doctors are bound by a “code of ethics” that prohibits them from participating in torture. The question is, though, of what use is the code of ethics if doctors are a necessary part of torture and torture is practiced by 150 countries? Are there situations in which doctors are required, but the medical code of ethics is not allowed? Are there two kinds of doctors, those that can assist in torture, and those that cannot? Are there laws regarding torture that exempt doctors?


Medical Ethic Supra Note National Security Legal Norm ROME Statute 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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  • John Lunstroth

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