For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today decried the beating and imprisonment of Dr. Salem Forjani, a heart surgeon for the Health Ministry in Libya. PHR learned that Dr. Forjani was seized on May 17, 2012 by the Government’s Supreme Security Committee (SSC) from Tripoli’s largest hospital and taken to a base in a suburb of Tripoli where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured.
“Dr. Forjani is integral to his community and his incarceration and abuse are an attack on the citizens of Libya who depend on him,” said Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR’s International Forensic Program. “If Libya can’t protect Dr. Forjani and his rights, how can victims confidently put their trust in him as a doctor? When I was in Libya last year I got to know Dr. Forjani through my work advising the Ministry of Martyrs, Wounded, and Missing Persons. Dr. Forjani is the kind of doctor who is sought after to treat victim’s physical ills and he is also the kind of doctor whose patients ask for guidance on navigating through a climate of uncertainty and injustice.”
“The attack on Dr. Forjani highlights the urgent need for Libya to establish due process and rule of law, document crimes to the highest forensic standards, and ensure that doctors can operate safely without the fear of reprisals,” said Donna McKay, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights.
PHR also calls on Libya to hold the individuals responsible for Dr. Forjani’s detention and abuse accountable.
“Holding the guilty parties accountable is the most effective way to end the cycle of violence and establish the rule of law,” said McKay.
Last year, PHR conducted a comprehensive forensic evaluation of the 32nd Brigade massacre which occurred under Khamis Qaddafi on August 23, 2011 in Tripoli. During an in-depth investigation into the massacre and events preceding it, PHR gathered evidence of torture, rape, and summary executions of male detainees at the makeshift detention facility. In addition to investigating the 32nd Brigade massacre, PHR investigated war crimes in Misrata, a town targeted by Qaddafi’s forces during his brutal crackdown on opposition fighters.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.