For Immediate Release
In the wake of the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is calling for accountability for all those who designed, authorized, implemented, and enabled the systematic torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
"Health professionals played a pivotal role in the abuse and brutality exposed in the CIA torture report and they must be held accountable," said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s senior medical advisor. "They were complicit at every step, including designing the torture techniques, monitoring the infliction of severe physical and mental pain, and failing to document clear evidence of harm. What happened was unethical, unlawful, and immoral, and we must ensure it never happens again."
Health professionals' involvement in monitoring the torture techniques was central to providing legal protection to those carrying out the CIA’s program. PHR said the use of doctors and psychologists was the primary means by which the government attempted to justify torture as “safe, legal, and effective.” PHR said that the health professionals who were involved betrayed their ethical duties and profoundly harmed the people they should have been protecting.
"For more than a decade, the U.S. government has been lying about its use of torture," said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. "The report confirms that health professionals used their skills to break the minds and bodies of detainees. Their actions destroyed trust in clinicians, undermined the integrity of their professions, and damaged the United States’ human rights record, which can only be corrected through accountability."
PHR calls for the investigation and prosecution of all those complicit in the torture and ill-treatment of detainees and the revocation of licenses for any health professionals who participated. PHR also repeats its call for transparency, and for the U.S. government to clarify the extent to which U.S. officials and those acting at the government’s direction violated the U.N. Convention against Torture and the U.S. Constitution.
PHR has extensively documented the systematic use of psychological and physical torture by U.S. military and medical personnel against detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram airbase, and elsewhere in its reports, including Break Them Down, Leave No Marks, Broken Laws, Broken Lives, Aiding Torture, and Experiments in Torture.
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.