Monday, August 25, 2008

California Sends a Message

The California State Legislature passed a resolution allowing health professionals to be prosecuted if they participate in interrogations that violate "international standards."

Senate Joint Resolution 19 instructs the state’s licensing boards to inform California doctors, psychologists and other health professionals of their obligations under national and international law relating to torture. The boards will warn the licensees that they may one day be subject to prosecution if they participate in interrogations that do not conform to international standards of treatment of prisoners.

“The resolution calls attention to the intolerable dilemma that torture presents when those who are supposed to be the healers in our society are involved in the abuse of prisoners,” said Eisha Mason, associate regional director for the American Friends Service Committee, one of the organizations that sponsored the resolution.

State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) introduced the resolution in response to evidence that – despite the medical oath to “first, do no harm” – some physicians, psychologists and other health personnel have been complicit in abusive interrogations of detainees by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

This part was rather alarming.
A survey of medical students conducted by the Harvard Medical School, published in the October, 2007 issue of the International Journal of Health Services, found that one-third of the respondents did not know that under the Geneva Conventions, they should refrain from participating in coercive interrogations.

Thank you, California. Now, who else is going to get on the bandwagon? It's going to take more than one state to stop these practices. Don't just sit there. Write your representatives. Talk to your neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. If we want this to stop, we need to stand up and make our voices heard.

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