How can you do no harm and supervise torture?

DOCTORS have become irreplaceable in the conduct of modern torture but are “immunised from accountability by the same governments that employ them”, a Lancet commentary says.

“In the so-called War on Terror… procedures such as cramped confinement, dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation and water-boarding have at times been legally sanctioned due to medical supervision,” the commentary, written by a US academic, notes.

“Indeed, doctors working for the military, intelligence agencies and other governmental entities often face divided loyalty between their employers’ orders and medical ethics.”

State-sanctioned torture was now practised in more than 100 countries, including 14 of the G20 nations.

Lancet 2011; online 21 Sept

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