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Physicians for Human Rights Comments on First Trial on Force-Feeding of Guantánamo Detainees

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today that the trial over the force-feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab should highlight the legal and medical ethics violations inherent in the practice, which can constitute torture and must immediately end.

"Today’s hearing is a rare window into the illegal and unethical force-feeding regime used to break the hunger strikes at Guantánamo," said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s senior medical advisor. "Force-feeding violates international standards for the management of hunger strikers, yet the U.S. government continues to inflict this painful, humiliating, and degrading procedure on Abu Wa’el Dhiab without medical justification. The government should address the underlying violation of indefinite detention, rather than punish desperate men for exercising their right to protest."

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia opened a hearing today on the legality of the force-feeding practices used on detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay. Dhiab, a Syrian detainee who was cleared for release in 2009, has been on a hunger strike since early 2013 to protest his indefinite detention.

Two medical experts affiliated with PHR, Dr. Sondra Crosby (pdf) and Dr. Stephen Xenakis (pdf), have conducted medical and psychological evaluations of Dhiab and are expected to testify in the case.

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.

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