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Press Release

COVID-19 Dis-/Misinformation and State Legislature Attacks on Medical Boards Undermine Public Health: PHR 

Amid a surge of state legislature efforts to limit medical boards’ ability to investigate patient harm, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) warns of undue political influence and a rising tide of disinformation that threaten public health.    At least 26 states are considering legislation to either limit state medical boards’ authority to investigate patient harm […]

March 1, 2022
COVID-19, When Doctors Harm
Press Release

Doctors Who Repeatedly Spread COVID-19 Misinformation and Disinformation Should Lose Medical Licenses: PHR

Doctors who repeatedly spread misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines should face disciplinary review and actions, including the revocation of their licenses, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today. A very small but vocal number of health professionals have taken to airwaves and social media to sow doubt and spread lies about COVID-19 and […]

October 13, 2021
When Doctors Harm
Press Release

Leading Mental Health Professionals and Organizations File Amici Brief in Landmark CIA Detainee Case at U.S Supreme Court

A group of eminent mental health professionals and organizations today filed a brief of amici curiae at the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of U.S. v Abu Zubaydah. Led by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the experts assert that the U.S. government cannot use the state secrets privilege to shield the egregious actions of […]

August 20, 2021
Torture, When Doctors Harm
Other

Amici Brief in the case of United States of America v. Abu Zubaydah

In U.S. v. Abu Zubaydah, the Supreme Court will consider if a detainee can obtain information about their torture while in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at a so-called “black site” in Poland, or whether the U.S. government can claim that the “state secrets” privilege completely blocks from view key information about […]

August 20, 2021
Torture, When Doctors Harm
Blog

Cruelty and Coercion: How ICE Abuses Hunger Strikers

On President Biden’s 100th day in office, Nilson Barahona-Marriaga joined demonstrators who greeted the president at a rally in Atlanta. “End detention now!” they chanted. “Communities are afraid!” A 39-year-old immigrant from Honduras, Nilson had been recently released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. The Irwin detention center, […]

June 29, 2021
Asylum, When Doctors Harm
Press Release

‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Architect Dr. James Mitchell’s Testimony at Guantánamo Highlights His Role in U.S. Torture, Debasement of Psychological Ethics: PHR

Psychologist Dr. James Mitchell – architect of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program and a key figure in health professionals’ shameful record of participation in torture – is testifying for the first time before a U.S. military court at Guantánamo Bay. His accounting of why and how the United States inflicted torture on detainees offers a […]

January 23, 2020
Torture, When Doctors Harm
Blog

Global Use of Torture and the Urgency of “The Report”: A Conversation between Experts

Below is an excerpt from a conversation between Vincent Iacopino, MD, PhD, PHR senior medical advisor, and Juan E. Méndez, former UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The discussion was moderated by Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU and PHR board member, in October 2019. In […]

November 25, 2019
Torture, When Doctors Harm
Press Release

Release of Top Secret CIA Document Reveals Deeper Medical Complicity in Torture Program

Withthe release of a previously top secret document – made public thanks to a legal victoryby the ACLU – disclosing the role of the Office of MedicalServices (OMS) in the CIA’s torture program, Physicians forHuman Rights (PHR) reminds health professionals that torture, in all its forms, isone of the most serious human rights violations and […]

November 16, 2018
Torture, When Doctors Harm

Medical Complicity Through Coercion

Sometimes medical professionals are coerced, including under threat of violence to themselves or their families, into performing unethical, medically unnecessary procedures or withholding medical diagnoses. In 2013, we called out Sudan after government doctors there amputated a man’s hand and foot under court order as punishment for a robbery. In 2003, we revealed that Iraqi […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Dual Loyalty in Drug Policy

PHR’s research on U.S. drug courts highlights the dual loyalty issues faced by medical professionals in this sector: courts dictate treatment protocols that run counter to best medical practice or require clinicians report to the court on patients’ progress – in violation of doctor-patient confidentiality.

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Dual Loyalty in Prison

Medical professionals who serve in prisons are often confronted with hunger-striking inmates. Force-feeding without consent is a flagrant violation of a patient’s medical autonomy. When conducted by a physician against the patient’s will, it not only violates medical ethics, it is medical complicity in torture, according to the World Medical Association. PHR has long demanded an […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Dual Loyalty in Immigration Detention

Long before the recent U.S. crackdown on asylum seekers and immigrants, PHR highlighted the challenge of providing quality health care to detainees in the U.S. detention system. Health professionals in these settings face difficult choices between serving their patients’ needs and serving the U.S. government’s goal of controlling and ultimately deporting undocumented immigrants. More than […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Dual Loyalty

Dual loyalty is the potential conflict between clinicians’ duties to their patients and their obligations to their employers, particularly governments. Acting in the patient’s best interest is the most fundamental tenet of medical ethics, yet systems often put pressures on health professionals which make it hard for them to perform their jobs ethically. PHR works […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Anal Testing

In 2015, six Tunisian students were sentenced to three years in prison after a forensic doctor performed anal examinations on them and wrote an affidavit affirming that the men had engaged in sodomy. Anal examinations are forcibly conducted in many countries where consensual anal intercourse is considered a crime. Police, prosecutors, or courts can request […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Hymen Examinations

So-called virginity testing – the examination of a woman’s hymen –  is used in many countries to determine a woman’s sexual status or history. “Virginity testing” has no clinical or scientific value, and conducting hymen examinations for this purpose violates basic medical and legal standards. Often performed without consent or in a context of threat or force, […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Challenging Harmful Practices

Countering “virginity testing,” anal examinations, and intersex surgery Around the world, medical professionals participate in practices that, while common in their societies, have no scientific validity and can cause significant physical and psychological harm. In cultures that prize virginity, hymen examinations are widely performed to determine a woman’s sexual history – in Afghanistan, a failed […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Complicity in State Executions

Using medicine to kill violates fundamental medical ethics. PHR views execution by the state as cruel and inhuman punishment. We oppose the death penalty in all cases and countries. We also oppose the participation of physicians and other health professionals in executions – including contributing to the search for so-called “humane” methods, determining the competency of […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Discrimination in Health Care

Medical ethics require health care providers to treat all people without bias, yet PHR’s work has uncovered troubling instances of discrimination by medical professionals. Some 3.6 million people live with HIV in Nigeria, yet less than a third of people with a positive AIDS diagnosis receive anti-retroviral treatment. In 2006, PHR conducted an investigation into […]

September 27, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Medical Complicity in U.S. Torture

Accountability for torture is a critical mechanism for prevention. Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the U.S. government patently authorized torture, with the participation of physicians, psychologists, and other health professionals. Medical ethics became subservient to military and policy objectives. No one who committed these crimes has ever faced justice, one of the worst […]

September 27, 2018
Torture, When Doctors Harm

The Quiet Hero of Guantánamo

In 2014, a career U.S. Navy nurse took an unprecedented stand: he refused to force-feed prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay on the grounds that it violated the ethical standards of his profession. When the Navy tried to punish the nurse by filing criminal charges, Physicians for Human Rights launched a sustained, high-profile campaign in his […]

August 9, 2018
When Doctors Harm

Accountability

We call out medical professionals who enabled the torture and medical neglect of U.S. national security detainees.  We expose doctors and other clinicians who knowingly discriminate when they provide health care. And we call out doctors who participate in executions, in clear violation of medical ethics.

August 5, 2018
When Doctors Harm

When Doctors Harm

Health professionals are committed to promoting health and human dignity and reducing suffering; they are guided by fundamental medical ethics to work for the benefit of their patients and the public. Sometimes, however, medical professionals are enlisted to betray those principles by participating in or abetting the violation of human rights, including the use of […]

August 5, 2018
When Doctors Harm
Report

Neither Justice Nor Treatment

Drug courts in the United States routinely fail to provide adequate, medically-sound treatment for substance use disorders, with treatment plans that are at times designed and facilitated by individuals with little to no medical training.  In a report published today by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), researchers found that drug courts – designed to reduce […]

June 15, 2017
When Doctors Harm
Blog

U.S. detention is harming refugee children

Last week, the state of Texas quietly issued a “child care facility” license to a family detention center in Karnes City, Texas. The license was issued despite the protests of attorneys, health professionals, and former detained individuals. While a temporary injunction now prevents Texas from issuing a similar license to the other family detention facility […]

May 12, 2016
Dual Loyalty, When Doctors Harm