Sanctions by Medical Associations for Torture



By Summer Volkmer ’11 – June 2010

Over a year into the Obama administration, there has been no public government investigation of the psychologists implicated in the torture and mistreatment of U.S. detainees captured in counter-terrorism efforts since the September 11th attacks. Although these psychologists potentially are criminally and civilly liable, they have not been made to answer for their actions.

The current lack of accountability raises the question of what role health professional associations and licensing boards should play in holding their members responsible for possible human rights violations.

This paper reviews efforts by domestic medical associations beginning in the 1970s and 1980s in Latin America and South Africa to hold doctors accountable for their roles in torture and other human rights abuses during rule by authoritarian or repressive regimes in those countries. Through their actions, these organizations sent a message that the profession would not tolerate complicity in human rights abuses by their members.

Please consult the paper’s bibliography for further information on this topic.

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